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SOURCE: 100 SF/F Books You Should Consider Reading in the New Year


Italic = read it. Underlined = not this, but something by the same author. Strikethrough = did not finish.


The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (2014)
The Stolen Lake by Joan Aiken (1981)
Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa (2001-2010)
Yokohama Kaidashi KikĊ by Hitoshi Ashinano (1994-2006) [partial]
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985)
Stinz: Charger: The War Stories by Donna Barr (1987)
The Sword and the Satchel by Elizabeth Boyer (1980)
Galactic Sibyl Sue Blue by Rosel George Brown (1968)
The Mountains of Mourning by Lois McMaster Bujold (1989)
War for the Oaks by Emma Bull (1987)
Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler (1980)
Naamah’s Curse by Jacqueline Carey (2010)
The Fortunate Fall by Raphael Carter (1996)
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (2015)
Red Moon and Black Mountain by Joy Chant (1970)
The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas (1980)
Gate of Ivrel by C.J. Cherryh (1976)
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho (2015)
Diadem from the Stars by Jo Clayton (1977)
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (1973)
Genpei by Kara Dalkey (2000)
Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard (2010)
The Secret Country by Pamela Dean (1985)
Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany (1975)
The Door into Fire by Diane Duane (1979)
On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis (2016)
Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott (2006)
Enchantress From the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl (1970)
Golden Witchbreed by Mary Gentle (1983)
The Dazzle of Day by Molly Gloss (1997)
A Mask for the General by Lisa Goldstein (1987)
Slow River by Nicola Griffith (1995)
Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly (1988)
Winterlong by Elizabeth Hand (1990)
Ingathering by Zenna Henderson (1995)
The Interior Life by Dorothy Heydt (writing as Katherine Blake, 1990)
God Stalk by P. C. Hodgell (1982)
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson (1998)
Zero Sum Game by S.L. Huang (2014)
Blood Price by Tanya Huff (1991)
The Keeper of the Isis Light by Monica Hughes (1980)
God’s War by Kameron Hurley (2011)
Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta (2014)
The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin (2015)
Cart and Cwidder by Diane Wynne Jones (1975)
Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones (2014)
Hellspark by Janet Kagan (1988)
A Voice Out of Ramah by Lee Killough (1979)
St Ailbe’s Hall by Naomi Kritzer (2004)
Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz (1970)
Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner (1987)
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)
Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier (2005)
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (1974)
Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (2013)
Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee (Also titled Drinking Sapphire Wine, 1979)
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (2016)
Wizard of the Pigeons by Megan Lindholm (1986)
Adaptation by Malinda Lo (2012)
Watchtower by Elizabeth A. Lynn (1979)
Tea with the Black Dragon by R. A. MacAvoy (1983)
The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald (2007)
China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh (1992)
Dreamsnake by Vonda N. McIntyre (1978)
The Riddle-Master of Hed by Patricia A. McKillip (1976)
Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees (1926)
Pennterra by Judith Moffett (1987)
The ArchAndroid by Janelle Monáe (2010)
Jirel of Joiry by C. L. Moore (1969)
Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (2016)
The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy (1989)
Vast by Linda Nagata (1998)
Galactic Derelict by Andre Norton (1959)
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik (2006)
Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara (1993)
Outlaw School by Rebecca Ore (2000)
Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor (2014)
Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (1983)
Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy (1976)
Godmother Night by Rachel Pollack (1996)
Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti (1859)
My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland (2011)
The Female Man by Joanna Russ (1975)
Stay Crazy by Erika L. Satifka (2016)
The Healer’s War by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (1988)
Five-Twelfths of Heaven by Melissa Scott (1985)
Everfair by Nisi Shawl (2016)
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski (1986)
The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart (1970)
Up the Walls of the World by James Tiptree, Jr. (1978)
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (1996)
The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge (1980)
All Systems Red by Martha Wells (2017)
The Well-Favored Man by Elizabeth Willey (1993)
Banner of Souls by Liz Williams (2004)
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson (2012)
Ariosto by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (1980)
Ooku by Fumi Yoshinaga (2005-present)

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 Thirty-first Minor Spirit of October
Real?
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

“Are they real?” Are you joking?

I mean seriously? After everything I’ve said, everything I’ve shown you this month? Are they real?

OK, fine whatever. All the talk of liminal states, night time or twilight encounters, things seen out of the corners of the eye...you wonder if they're real or a product of our minds.

But here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t.

Perception is reality. Everything you experience is a product of your mind. You see a woman walking around a pond on a misty morning, and then she disappears. You get chased by a black dog with red glowing eyes on a dark road at midnight. Did it really happen outside of you? As much as getting hit by a car. As the rapper Del once said, “remember that it's all in your head”

So what I’m saying, if you see a lighthouse on a stormy night, if a light in a window calls to you, if you hear the howling of motorcycles at night, they're real enough for you. Whether or not someone else can see it doesn't matter, because you're in the middle of it.

Except for me. I'm always in the middle of it.

And right now? it doesn’t matter if they’re really out there, or your mind is telling you they are. They’re pissed off as hell, and if you set a foot outside, you’ll die.

So stop waving that knife around, and hand it to me. I’m going to make a circle from my blood, and you’re going to sit in it, until the sun comes up. Me...I’m going to go outside and let them take me...well, wherever. I’ll figure something out.

I’ll be OK, I think.

You’ll see me again, at least.

Somewhere.
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Thirtieth Minor Spirit of October
The Great God Nyarlathotep
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

When the light of the sun faded, and the shadows gathered around the mountain meadow, the elder god Nyarlathotep stepped out into the clearing from the surrounding pines. While moonlight limned the eastern mountains, it strode to the top of of the hill, and just as the limb of the full moon appeared over the rim of the tallest peak, it unfurled its face tentacle to its fullest extent and howled- a wail that echoed with the vast horror of an uncaring cosmos.

“Be careful,” my partner whispered in my ear. “Don’t step on it.”

I put my hands on my knees and looked down at the elder god Nyarlathotep. “Aww. ¿Quien es el pequeño elder god más lindo?”

She sighed. “Yes it’s very cute. No you can’t pet it. No you can’t take it home.”
I looked at the elder god speculatively. ”I bet it would fit in my water bottle.”
“Oh come on, you wouldn’t even let me have a dog.”
“It was a Black Hound.”
“Still.”
I sighed. “So anyway, What’s its deal? It’s so small.”

She shrugged. Nyarlathotep gave out another eerie howl, that only we could hear.

“Well, nobody’s quite sure, but people people in the know have been arguing for a long time about spirits. “Some think spirits are products of collective belief. Humanity creates gods.
I considered. “So it’s small because only a few people believe in it.”
“Others think spirits always existed independent of humanity, and developed a symbiotic relationship with us.”

The great god Nyarlathotep let out another moan. I resisted the urge to pick it up. “So I guess that question is settled?”
She snorted. “Like hell. The counter-argument is that some minor spirits imprinted themselves on a couple of susceptible minds.”
“What do you think?”

She scowled, eyeing Nyarlthotep.
"Well?"

She said slowly “I have a friend who’s a witch in New England. She says one night she found a Cthulhu on the beach. It was knee high and and kind of ugly-cute, like a star mole.”
“So?”
She crouched down, looking at it with an unreadable expression. At last she sighed.
“I think we need to stick around, and make sure it doesn’t get eaten by an owl, or caught by a cultist or something.”
“Would they worship it or something? Make...make it bigger?”

The great god Nyarlathotep finished howling, and began stumping down the hill, zig-zagging around patches of mayflowers. A gleam of light down the hill caught my eye. There were voices.
“Quiet!” Someone yelled. “Have some dignity! We’re supposed to be moving with worshipful comportment!”
“But there’s brambles here!”

Her lips compressed into a thin line. “No. But they’d whine. Nothing annoys me like the whining of disillusioned white guys.”

We eased into the woods, following the trail of the Great God Nyarlathotep, until it disappeared under a clump of ferns.
 
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Twenty-ninth Minor Spirit of October
The Campsite
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

Stop. I mean it. It’s not what it appears.

This camp is completely wrong. Yes there’s a couple old wadded up jackets and blankets, and a bunch of wrappers and magazines, but can’t you see? They don’t go together. It’s just trash that’s been dragged here from all over. That’s not a fire pit, just rocks in a circle.

It’s Cargo.

Look, Let me explain while you back away. You’ve heard of Cargo, right? No. OK, in some places in Melanesia, status was based on gift giving. When the Europeans came with all their stuff, and then left that was messed up.

Back up now. No, I mean the other way.

The story was some people thought that by building symbolic airports they could get goods directly from the spirits. I mean that’s what white anthropologists used to say, but they now think-

Oh come on. Don’t poke that. Listen!

Think of humans building cities, bulldozing fields and woods. Places of power lost, spirits get forced together. It’s chaos. So some spirits try sympathetic magic of their own. They make ”human places” to attract their own cargo.

That's right. Follow my voice.

But, but, but, here’s the thing. The goods they’re looking for are people. People’s dreams, their emotions, even their bodies. We’re supposed to be the cargo.

So now we have to- no! Don’t sit down. Seriously, we need to-

Oh.

Well. Um. I was just leaving, actually. I mean, I’ll come back in the morning, just to tidy up, OK? Just to get what you leave- I mean, if you want to make it a gift, that would be great.
 
 
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Twenty-eighth Minor Spirit of October
Spirits of the Suburbs
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

So, let’s talk about town spirit versus country spirit. I mean, they’re basically the same, it’s really about how they travel.

Spirits tend to move in straight lines. Or rather, they tend to move along the tracks laid out for them, going from one place to another. In the wilderness or country, that means they tend to pool in clearings and vales- usually around some object that’s spiritually interesting or just stands out.

In cities, it’s easy for spirits to travel place to place. All the natural boundaries like creeks tend to be covered up, so spirits tend to tumble along the straight lines of streets, and congregate in quiet dead end alleys and parks. Ever wonder why you feel nervous walking in those dark places late at night, when everything’s quiet? Well actually, that has nothing to do with spirits. But anyway.

There’s a third area: suburbs. You’ve probably felt nervous in them, and that has everything to do with spirits. Modern suburbs with those odd curving streets, blind cul-de-sacs, and entire neighborhoods connected to main thoroughfares by single streets? They turn the whole area into a liminal space, where there is no journey place to place. The patterns baffle spirits even more than humans; they get trapped in endless loops, raging, furious.

That’s why so many of these neighborhoods get bad attitudes. Not the people, the neighborhoods themselves. Though that probably helps explain why those places tend to be so neurotic. But that’s not the thing that bugs me the most.

Those patterns? They have to have been done deliberately. Somebody knew what the hell they were doing when they designed these suburbs to look attractive, while being spiritually toxic. And they passed the knowledge along. I really don’t want to meet those people.

Because those spirits? Those furious, baffled, toxic spirits?

I’m pretty sure someone’s harvesting them.
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Twenty-Seventh Minor Spirit of October

The Demon Dog of Valley Crucis, North Carolina
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

Now this is a genuine urban legend. It’s famous. It’s on websites and everything.

According to legend, late at night near the graveyard of this little mountain church in a hilly area of North Carolina, a demon dog will appear out of the mist. According to the people who’ve seen it and lived, the thing is as tall as a grown man, terrifying to see, and it can keep up with fleeing cars until they cross the streams.

I do mean "people who saw it and lived". I mean, they don’t KNOW it’s hurt anyone. Abandoned cars are found occasionally in all sorts of towns. And if no official missing person’s report is filed, the sheriff’s department doesn’t have to look too hard. Especially at night.

And there we are. Big as a horse, check. Long yellow teeth as long as my hand, check. Red glowing eyes. Check. That’s our demon dog. As big and terrifying as the stories say.

And it’s coming toward us. Wow. It really is big.

And all I have is this circle of salt and blood, and. And. And. And this leg of mutton. Would you like a bone?

Aww. Who’s a scary evil hound? You is. Are you the evil hound? Yes you is. Yes you is.

Would you like another leg of mutton? I’ve got one in my bag. All you have to do is take care of those guys who’ve been following us since Bluff Mountain. The ones with the guns and the rope.

And there they are now.

(You might want to turn around for this part)

Oh. You are such a big evil doggie. Such an evil boy. Off you go!

...what? I said I was a dog person!
 
 
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Twenty-Sixth Minor Spirit of October_
The Window Wisp
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

Before you go in, here’s what you should know. It’s OK to be scared. In fact, that’s better that way. But not too scared. I mean you're curious too, right?

Anyway, I think they started off as a variety of Will-o-wisps. Which re all about mystery, luring people, curiosity. So when fields and farms took over, some of them adapted, found thought to find a new way to attract people. They found old castles or mansions, and found a room they could light up. A single light in an upstairs window.

Yes, exactly like the novel covers. That’s what they were based on, after all. And it was all to attract people. Hopefully a woman mingling terror and fascination, or at least teenagers full of curiosity. And it worked well enough for the legends to spread.

But lately, what that single light attracts is bored policemen. Or real estate agents. Followed by bulldozers.

The ones that can, flee. They seek out anything deserted that has a window.. Even if it’s a small, decrepit, one room shack with no glass in the window and holes in the bare wood walls. There’s no room for hidden staircases, or pictures with eyes that follow you. No creepy basement, just dirt under those splintered floorboards.

Look, when you go in, try to be curious and impressed. If you breath fast, your heart will pound. And um...if you look under the loose boards in the north corner? There might be a something. It’s not much, but try to be surprised. And take your time.

Oh. The window’s lit. It’s time to go. Here’s your flashlight.

Leave the light on, OK?
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Twenty-Fifth Minor Spirit of October
Muse on the Run
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

Ever wonder why an author will write the best book you ever read, and then disappear? Or a band will turn out the Best Album Ever, but their next one Just Ain't All That?

It's  the Muses. But it's not really their fault. It's simple numbers.

Back in the day things were, if not easier (inspiration never is), simpler. Slower paced. I mean, how many people were actually putting things down in concrete form anyway? They could spend a lifetime with a Homer or a Sappho or a Shakespeare.

But then printing presses, and movable type, and publisher. And typewriters and word processors and computers and paint programs and and and-

There's a glut of creatives. So many, so very many of them. Far more than can be helped by the touch of a Muse. Who now stick with an artist for one project, and then flit away, drawn to the next. Their senses teased, tormented by another potential in the same city, the new artist's focus a drumbeat calling them away.

They don't rest any more. Often they don't stick with a full project; one awesome song, one brilliant piece of dialogue, one panel that stands out. Hollow eyed, trembling like they're on speed, they move on to the next. Like neverending spiritual triage.

And the worst thing is there's alternatives. So many other ways artists can get inspiration, correct their flaws, focus on the right things, develop themselves. They go to peers, join groups and classes, even write books.

I have one of those writing manuals here. It's OK, but this chapter on bringing emotional content into dialogue? It's brilliant. I’ll leave it here with you. Take a break and read it.

I mean, I guess what I'm trying to say is it's not you. Two books is an incredible run. So be happy with what you had.

Also...your heroine’s dialogue in Chapter 2...It really doesn't match her character.

Exit Stage Left, pursued by an author
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Twenty-Fourth Minor Spirit of October
That Guy
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

People react in different ways to encountering spirits for the first time. Terror is common. Bursts of religious fervor are frequent, though rarely last. Some just integrate it into their worldview and go on, and a few become obsessed with knowing more to the point of paranoia.

And then there's That Guy.

It wasn't enough that he had his atheistic worldview upended. After some furious thought, he got ideas. He wanted to do more than tell the world about spirits. We've had people like that before.

He wanted to monetize them.

Now don't get me wrong. Who in the know hasn't done an exorcism, raised or put down spirits for cash on the barrel-head? We live in a material (mostly) world.

But this guy, he was ambitious. More than 1-900 lines with spiritualists standing by, ready to bother dead relatives, he saw them being placed right into computers or smart phones. He wanted mass summonings and bindings for profit. He even thought of binding the souls of technicians into manikins or preserved corpses so they could continue working after death. He saw himself as the Peter Thiel of spiritualism, disrupting the ethereal world.

It wouldn't have worked of course; you know why the spirit world is a liminal experience, unsuitable for mass consumption. I told him so. But he wouldn't listen to warnings from someone like me.

So I did the only thing I could. I helped him.

A few hints, some instructions, ready with warnings if only he asked. But no, he fit some pieces together and ran with them. Ignoring the gaps in his knowledge. So he summoned spirits. Oh how he summoned spirits.

I hear they're making good progress with him. He's been able to sleep for fifteen minutes at a stretch now. He was even able to look briefly into a mirror the other day.

Pity about the time the lights went out all night
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Twenty-third Minor Spirit of October
Blame it on the Frogs
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

Oh, so you HAVEN’T heard of the Green Lady of Lily Pond. Well. It’s a sad story.

When the lakes were sculpted for Golden Gate Park, she was happy to take up residence at Lily Pond. Though not the largest, people agreed that it was possibly the most beautiful bit of water in the city. Turtles sunned themselves on rocks, ducks paddled across the water, koi fish glided among the cattails. It seemed the perfect place for a spirit to begin her legend.

And it was. For a while, anyway.

There was something about the drainage, or the amount of sunlight, or SOMETHING off with the pond, that made things go wrong. Duckweed, and then algae covered it in a stinking green mat. Fish died, the ducks left, and people either hurried by or dumped trash into it.

And then there were the frogs. Oh Goddess, the frogs.

These weren't the cute little local peepers. These were African Clawed Frogs, huge with clawed legs, and a voracious appetite. Some idiot scientist dumped them in the pond after a research project went wrong, and they bred and multiplied. They ate the remaining fishes and turtles and everything else, and then started eating each other.

As we are what we eat, spirits are their homes. So as the pond changed, so did she. Her skin turned a mottled green-brown, her eyes became bulging orbs, her body bloated. Her hands and legs stretched out with grasping claws, and her appetite, well, let's not talk about that. From seductive lakeside spirit to a reclusive monster, the subject of late evening drunken nightmares.

Yes she’s miserable. And yes, she’s a danger to herself and others. We’re working on it, OK? We’ve managed to keep the damn toads from infesting the other ponds. We’re working on ways to bring everything back to normal. We’re going to put the pond and its spirit through rehab. It...may involve gallons of bleach. And draining the pond. And. And. And backhoes. We’re not quite sure what it’ll do to her.

That’s why for once we’re taking our time. Planning things out. Doing careful surveys. There’s no rush. I mean, we’ve kept her from devouring anyone. So far. We think.

So do you know where we can rehouse a few thousand frogs?

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Twenty-second Minor Spirit of October
The Hunt
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

You've never seen their passing, but you've heard the the howling of engines racing down the street this time of year. There's even a trace of the old primal fear, enough to cause a shiver as you lie in bed. But really, they aren't the same.

Horses are for the countryside, and obsolete; urban streets are no place for old methods. So, now they have steeds of metal to race on the streets. It could even seem a little poetic. But it just isn't the same.

New environments lead to new rules. And the tracks of asphalt and concrete have SO many rules. Yellow lines and white lines and turn lanes and stop lights - STOP Lights! The laws of humankind weigh heavily on the Hunt.

The red-eared hounds could not keep up, had to be diminished, shrunk until they fit in panniers and backpacks. They still yelp in silent fury. It really isn't the same.

And don't even ask about what they hunt, now. It's downright embarrassing, what prey you find in the city.

Still, you hear them gunning their engines in a wailing chorus these Autumn midnights, and you shiver.

They are no longer what they were. But you have to wonder what would happen if you met them on your bike.

I don't know either. But I'd rather you wait to try. I like having you here. And when you rev the engine on your bike, I hear an echo of that hunt.

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Twenty-first Minor Spirit of October
True Story
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.


At some point in a telling of spooky stories has to come a true story that happened to the author. This is my true story.

When i lived on the Mesa in Santa Barbara, across the main road from my neighborhood was a large gully slicing across two ridges, with a dry stream going all the way from Carrillo Street to the City College. Sandwiched between two subdivisions,  it was choked with chaparral, had little side canyons and groves, and was everything a active hyperactive teenager could want. I explored all of it, and was utterly fearless, whether it was poking my head into temporary caves made from storm runoff, or dashing through abandoned homeless camps.

Except for one place. The grove.

At the top of the gully where the streambed disappeared, there was a tiny meadow area surrounded by old eucalyptus trees. It was always cool and shaded and damp, even in late summer. Though it was only a few tens of yards down an embankment from a major access road, it was always quiet there, the hum of the city muted.

And it was mean. Angry.

Nothing ever happened to me there. I never saw or heard anything. But whenever I went through that place, the hairs on the back of my neck would raise, and I would get nervous. I couldn't escape the feeling that someone was watching me, silently angry that I was trespassing. I was reluctant to bend down under the low-hanging branches, lest the leaves touch me. Ants, or spiders might be on the branches, I said to myself. But the reality was I didn't want any plant there touching me.

As I said nothing ever happened to me there. But I made sure to never say there after sunset. And it was an odd thing; though it was a perfect sheltered camping spot,  i never saw the trash a homeless camp would leave behind.

A biologist might talk about subsonic sounds, or it might have just have been an imaginative teen letting fantasies run wild. That's what my rational mind says. But the primal side that reacts to danger? I think they're was something there that was angry and hateful.

Time passed. I grew up and moved away. And one day when i visited my relatives, i saw the canyon had been made into a park, except for the area where the grove had been- the trees had been cut down and it  was now a cul de sac with several houses in it.

I'm sure they're very nice houses. Expensive, though they have no view. Nice and private and quiet.

But you could not pay me to stay overnight  in one.

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Twentieth  Minor Spirit of October
The Woman in Khaki
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

Of course you've heard about the Woman in White of Stow Lake. Possibly even the more tragic Green Woman of Lily Pond. But have you heard of the Woman in Khaki of Vasona Lake and Guadalupe Creek? I didn’t think so.

The story says that in foggy mornings, in places ranging from Vasona Park to the Los Gatos Creek recharge ponds, people will see a woman clad all in light tan, silently smoking a cigarette and scowling furiously. If approached or hailed, she will silently walk into the water, disappearing without a trace.

The legends behind the Woman in Khaki are pretty typical, involving a feckless fiance or husband, betrayal, suicide by drowning, you know the drill. Human minds really do run on predictable lines. And now, they say, of course, she's doomed to wander the lakeside. Or she will beckon to attractive young people from the water, inviting them to watery doom.

Which is nonsense of course. She’s too busy to lure people into the lake, even if there weren’t clearly posted signs saying ABSOLUTELY NO SWIMMING.Unlike her dilettante sisters up north, she has work to do. That whole area is her responsibility, and the water levels alone should be enough to worry about. But the flood control locks are constantly rusting, the PH in the ponds goes off, there’s algae blooms, and people insist on dumping their aquariums into the flood control basins. And then there's the geese.

Please. Don't ask about the geese.

My point is, she really has no time or patience for noisy messy people who cannot be bothered to read clearly lettered signs.

Still, she CAN be summoned or propiated. Go to her altar just as the sun touches the horizon, and make a sacrifice of a turbibimeter or ph meter, a box of unfiltered Marlborough's (no menthols), and a Manhattan cocktail in a biodegradable cup.

If it all goes well,  you may smell cigarette smoke and a voice will whisper from behind you. “Absolutely no swimming.” Do not turn around or say anything. Remain in a position of supplication until the smell fades and then back away without looking behind you until you reach the asphalt  road.

That should fix the problem your organic garden is having with it's drainage. Just remember,  she really does have a temper. Do you remember the big floods the other year? Where the entire creek basin was impassable?

I told them, unfiltered, no menthols. Really, some people.
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Nineteenth Minor Spirit of October
Earthquake Boy
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

The stories all go the same way. Just before major earthquakes, people recount seeing a silent pale child in a upper story hallway of the skyscrapers in which they live; a boy who vanishes when approached. In San Francisco, the stories include the detail that he is dressed as i he was from the start of the 20th century.

People speculate that it is the ghost of someone who died in the 1906 earthquake, and who appears just before earthquakes to warn people. Similar stories show up Los Angeles, Japan, Italy- wherever large cities are built in earthquake prone areas.

They’re all nonsense, of course.

I mean, ghosts don’t even work that way. They can’t see the future. The answer’s much simpler than that.

You see, the spirit serpents that manifest as long cracks in the earth, mentally twitch before they wake up and cause earthquakes. These cause powerful psychic waves, that are focused by the metal frameworks of skyscrapers into a form that humans can briefly see, and then our primate minds interpret them as children. It’s just a quirk of our neurology.

See? Perfectly straightforward and logical.

So don’t worry. That kid you just saw wasn’t a ghost.
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 Reposted from...elsewhere.

Eighteenth Minor Spirit of October
Blink
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

Blink

That flash you see out of the corner of your eyes? Briefly lighting up the hillside? Wait for it...

Blink

That one. It isn't a broken transformer. It isn't the lights of a distract car, reflecting off the clouds.

Blink

Of course it's a lighthouse. Even if you didn't see it during the day. Or rather, it's the ghost of a lighthouse.

Blink

Is it so surprising? Something with so much importance and emotion and symbolism attached to it? Of course something would survive, even after the sea lanes changed, even after it was torn down.

Blink

All that's left is intent and the mission: to warn. To signal of land. On moonless, overcast nights it shines on empty sea and crowded land.

Blink

But it's the perverse nature of the spirit world that what it was in life, is reversed in death. Instead of warning away, it summons.

Blink

If you follow that flash of light, take the old trail down to the point, just above the reef, you may see the ship that signal is bringing in.

Blink

Perhaps they will invite you aboard. Though if you accept, you will never return to this life.

Blink




Blink

I'm sorry. It's the only escape I can offer.

Blink

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Reposted from...elsewhere.

Seventeenth Minor Spirit of October
Metal Bodies
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

Shiny Metal Bodies

He had enough power to summon them, and then embody them, but barely more than that. Not for him the golems of legend, or even animated dolls; the best he could do was have them possess tiny metal statues.

And then, unable to even communicate with them, he just forgot them. Dismissed it as a lark. Went on to other obsessions.

Trapped in motionless bodies, helplessly stuck on shelves for display, they could do nothing but watch him, their rage growing by the day. They could not hurt him of course. Even without the binding, their ability to affect the world was was minute- barely able to shift a few electrons here and there.

But they would and they could have their revenge.

For a start, just wait until he tried opening the files with his character sheets...
roseembolism: (Default)
Sixteenth Minor Spirit of October
Leave Some Milk Out
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

They aren't squirrels or rats, you know that much. Night after night you lie paralyzed in bed, listening to the sounds of scratching and scrabbling coming from the ceiling.

But tonight, there's a soft angry hiss from the end of the bed, and the noises abruptly stop. You feel the blankets dimple under  silent paws, feel the pillow move as your cat curls up watchfully next to you.

It's such a relief you fall asleep almost immediately. It's only in the last instant of wakefulness that you remember he's been gone for five years.

But in the morning, there's a dent in the pillow next to you. And the noises don't come back.
roseembolism: (Default)
Reposted from...elsewhere.


Fifteenth Minor Spirit of October
The Night Song
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

So you're bugged because you've been hearing the killdeer calling at night. Well relax. It's not an evil spirit signaling your doom. It's a perfectly normal bird.

What happens, is killdeer are sensitive to the spirits a doomed person attracts. They think their nests are in danger, so they call out a warning.

See? Perfectly harmless.

As matter of fact, I'm finding your spirits a little upsetting myself. So maybe leave now?
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  Reposted from...elsewhere.


Fourteenth Minor Spirit of October
Stitch Stitch Stitch
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

Let's talk about the Stitcherman. You know the feeling of Deja Vu? When you find yourself remembering what you're doing right now? It's not retrorecognition, or a neural feedback loop, or anything clever like that. The Stitcherman steals a memory while you're thinking of it, and then stitches up the gap so you think you're remembering the present moment.

It's painless, and it's not like you needed that memory.

You won't miss her at all..
roseembolism: (Default)
 Reposted from...elsewhere.


Thirteenth Minor Spirit of October

The Workers' Watch
Instead of Inktober, I'm doing a spirit a day for October.

It is true that craftsmen invest part of their souls in the things they make. This is also true for the carpenters and bricklayers and welders who build houses and buildings.

However, builders work in groups; the fragments of their souls are diffused, spread over the whole construction site. Over time these fragmentary spirits gradually clump together, to form a communal spirit, a sort of artificial genus loci.

They are harmless having very little power other than a consciousness of what goes on in the place they made, and the flaws in their work. So when you're alone at night and it's quiet, and you feel something watching you, that may be them. They're just trying to warn you of the failure points in your home.

At least you should hope that's what's watching you.

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