Art Issue Contents

Issue #8: The Art Issue (Winter 2008)

Issue 8: The Art Issue

In this issue, art director Mary Robinette Kowal first selected the art; then we approached some of our favorite authors to write stories inspired by the art.

John Piccacio’s “Penny’s Grave” inspired “Pennywise,” by Kurt Kirchmeier.
“Cherub,” by Sandro Castelli, lead to “A Very Young Boy With Largely Clipped Wings,” by Michael Livingston.

Fatima Azimova’s “Conception of the Mind” was the inspiration for “Within the City of the Swan” by Aliette de Bodard. (Best American Fantasy 3 Recommended Reading List)

Chrissy Ellsworth’s “My Career as a Fashion Designer” lead to “Dresses, Three” by Angela Slatter (honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Year’s Best Horror.)

Carrie Ann Baade’s amazing untitled image gave us “Flying and Falling” by Kuzhali Manickavel, which was reprinted in Best American Fantasy 3.

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Table of Contents

Penny Wise by Kurt Kirchmeier

Ellsy Marcucci was a penny mage, or as some would say, a one-cent wonder child. She discovered her gift while making a wish that never came true. Into the fountain her penny had gone, but rather than sink to the bottom to join with the rest of the change, it instead sprouted copper-plated fins. It began swimming in widening circles, and Abraham Lincoln-shaped turds trailed out from behind it.

Interview with John Picacio

I don’t really commit to an idea until I believe it’s going to work. Sometimes I get that right idea in my initial sketch; sometimes it takes several sketches or several generations. I believe in my own design process though. Whatever it takes; whatever it entails…whether that means writing a short brief for myself; taking notes from the manuscript; gathering reference materials; making a model; I’ll do whatever it takes to get it right.

A Very Young Boy with Largely Clipped Wings by Michael Livingston

The spring rains of late September were so thick off the salty bay that Pelayo, walking home from the rabbit warrens, didn’t see the little boy in the mud until he’d very nearly stepped upon him. The child, naked but for the bony stumps protruding from his back, which had looked to Pelayo for all the world like the wind-bared stalks of thornweeds until he noticed the fact of their rooting upon the boy’s exposed skin, seemed to be asleep. Arms outstretched like a fallen mime of Christ, he lay face down in the gloppy muck, and Pelayo would have thought him dead were it not for the gurgling of the soupy earth around the sides of his head and the slow rise and fall—perceived once Pelayo stopped to examine him through the foggy downpour—of his rain-splattered back.

Within the City of the Swan by Aliette de Bodard

Jaya crouches in the darkness, watching the gates of Vareia. The fighting is still going on: by the light of torches, soldiers hack at each other with the ferocity of despair.

Jaya has the other sight and she knows it’s too late: at the heart of the maze, the Swan’s feathers are black with blood, and the invaders’ magic has removed his protection from Vareia.

But there is still a chance.

Even Songbirds Are Kept in Cages by Josh Vogt

I was nine when my dad brought home the mockingbird lady. He clipped her wings and then took her up to the attic, carrying several coils of barbed wire along with him. When he came downstairs, he dusted off his hands and glared at my brother and me.

“There,” he said. “Never let it be said your dad doesn’t provide for his family.”

Monologue with Birds and Burin by Daniel A. Rabuzzi

“Make way, make way,” she said. “Clear the way for today’s beauties!” She lifted up a great lamp, its oil expended, and put it down with a rattly bang on one of the lesser tables flanking the workbench. The lamp’s lemon-colored shade sat askew, but the deconstructor paid it no more mind than she did the insects that made tracks in the workshop dust.

“Crowbar,” she said. “Where is crowbar when you need him?” She rummaged in a pile, sending picks and screwdrivers onto the floor. A crowbar fell and bounced a neat parabola.

“Well,” she laughed. “Crowbar flies.”

Dresses, Three by Angela Slatter

I found, this morning, the last of the oddments to which my memories cling. From the upended envelope floated a peacock feather; a pair of butterfly wings; and a piece of paper, a list of words embedded into its onion-skin fineness with a calligraphy pen, traced in a very fine hand. Three things, three things upon which once hung life, freedom, and quite possibly a soul.

Flying and Falling by Kuzhali Manickavel

Muhil was born during a legendary thunderstorm that uprooted every banana tree in the village and sent a legion of white crabs to die on the highway. She was wrinkled, ordinary and unremarkable save for the fact that she had a spongy knob on each shoulder and she didn’t cry. Her father, Ilango, peered at her and had a premonition of dark, heavy things.

“What’s wrong with her?” he asked.

Speculative fiction for a miscreant world

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