Flash Fiction: “Papagena” by Jay lake and Ruth Nestvold
(“Tales of the Rose Knights” #8, originally published in Daily Science Fiction.)
Papagena was born on the Borderlands, between the sere landscape of the south and the orange plains to the north, a child of two homes, and when she chose to become a Rose Knight, her allegiance was to the plains as well as the desert, to the fertile land of Osverio as well as the harsher but warmer beauty of the Desertlands.
She did not wear only one color. Some said her loyalties were divided, but she was true to both, orange and yellow, fighting with an ancient heart for both armies, giving the strength of her sword arm when the orange knights went to battle and the strength of her shield when the yellow knights needed to defend Sandbridge from intruders. As with all of the Rose Knights about whom the tales are told, Papagena was her own agent, free to go where she would and fight with whom she chose, living off booty and the pay from the campaigns in which she fought. Nonetheless, most Rose Knights fought for only one army.
Papagena went a different way.
Jay Lake lived in Portland, Oregon until his death in 2014, shortly before his 50th birthday. His books include Kalimpura from Tor and Love in the Time of Metal and Flesh from Prime. His short fiction appeared regularly in literary and genre markets worldwide. Jay was a winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and a multiple nominee for the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. In 2015, he posthumously received the Locus Award for his collection Last Plane to Heaven.
Learn more about him and his work at jlake.com.
Ruth Nestvold has published widely in science fiction and fantasy, her fiction appearing in such markets as Asimov’s, F&SF, and Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction. Her work has been nominated for the Nebula, Tiptree, and Sturgeon Awards. In 2007, the Italian translation of her novella Looking Through Lace won the Premio Italia award for best international work. She maintains a web site at ruthnestvold.com and blogs at ruthnestvold.wordpress.com.
Main Story: “She-Who-Thinks-For-Herself: A Tale of Modern Women in the Dark Continent” by Juliet E. McKenna
(Originally published in Resurrection Engines.)
My beloved aunt, Phyllis Charteris, has received none of the plaudits lavished on the laurel-garlanded heroes who explore the remote heart of Africa. The Royal Geographic Society might deign to acknowledge Mary Kingsley after the success of her publication, ‘Travels in West Africa’ but there is not one quarter-inch of a newspaper column recording my aunt’s achievements.
Such injustice has galled me ever since my return from the trackless swamps of the upper Zambesi. However I was sworn to secrecy for reasons which this narrative will soon explain.
Now Mr. H. Rider Haggard has published the reminiscences of his Cambridge acquaintance sheltering beneath the pseudonym “Horace Holly”. Consequently I am free to share my aunt’s achievements with the world.
But I am outstripping my story’s proper order.
Juliet E. McKenna is a British fantasy author living in the Cotswolds, UK. Loving history, myth, and other worlds since she first learned to read, she has written fifteen epic fantasy novels, from The Thief’s Gamble which began The Tales of Einarinn in 1999, to Defiant Peaks concluding The Hadrumal Crisis trilogy. Exploring new opportunities in digital publishing, she’s re-issuing her backlist as ebooks as well as bringing out original fiction. She also writes diverse shorter fiction, reviews for web and print magazines, and promotes science fiction and fantasy by blogging, attending conventions, and teaching creative writing. You can learn more about all of this at julietemckenna.com, and you can find Juliet on Facebook and on Twitter via @JulietEMcKenna.
About the Narrators:
Kat Merkulova is a multilingual, multi-national human. Born in the USSR, she currently lives in Paris, France. In the past she’s written a doctorate in plant biology, been an electro-grunge singer, and reported “LIVE!” on Russian national television. She’s recently decided to give web development a chance. As fascinating a person as she may be by day, she has zero literary credentials apart from being a fan of genre literature and podcasting. If you really want to, you can follow her on Instagram at @katlarusse.
Nicola Seaton-Clark lives in the wilds of (almost) Eastern Europe with her long-suffering husband, phenomenal children and a grumpy cat. Trained as an actress and singer, she has worked in entertainment for over 20 years and currently splits her time between writing speculative fiction, helping her husband run their voice-over company, Offstimme, and voicing everything from commercials and documentaries to public transport announcements. She also hosts this podcast…