“The Seal of Sulaymaan” by Tracy Canfield
(Originally published in Fantasy Magazine, July 2010.)
Back when there were other ifriit to talk to, I’d tell them Morocco was as far as you can get from Mecca without leaving civilization. In Agadir, with its casinos and five-star hotels and nightclubs filled with Moroccan tourists sporting European fashions too daring to wear at home, even these most fractious of beings could not have argued; but here, a mere twenty miles out of town, I could barely have spoken the words myself without laughing. A thousand and one trashbags flapped and snapped on the branches of the argan trees, blown by the June breeze from every dump in the country. A plastic Ayn Sultaan bottle arced from the window of a passing truck, trailing a mist of carbonated mineral water, and bounced in the dust.
Except for the bags, the bottle, and the asphalt road, the landscape was much as I had always known it: rolling hills and twisted gray-green trees, dust and blue sky. One tall tree had been cleared of bags, and a herd of goats perched among its branches, nibbling the pointed argan fruit. A goatherd in a dusty jalbiib leaned on his stick and watched them. I thought of King Sulaymaan (may they build a halaal McDonalds on his grave) leaning on his own stick and took a step out of my way to crush the Ayn Sultaan bottle under my heel.
Tracy Canfield’s short fantasy and science fiction has appeared in Analog, Strange Horizons, and other magazines and anthologies. She is a computational linguist who CNN once called a “Klingon scholar” for her work on the Jenolan Caves’ Klingon-language audio tour. Currently, she’s currently developing a computer game based on her space opera novelette “Salvage” for Choice of Games LLC. You can find her on Twitter as @TracyCanfield.
About the Narrator:
Khalidaah Muhammad-Ali lives in Houston, Texas, with her family. By day she works as a breast oncology nurse. At all other times, she juggles, none too successfully, the multiple other facets of her very busy life. Khaalidah has been published at or has publications upcoming in Strange Horizons, Fiyah Magazine, Diabolical Plots, and others. You can also hear her narrations at any of the four Escape Artists podcasts, Far Fetched Fables, and Strange Horizons. Khaalidah is also co-editor at PodCastle audio magazine, where she is on a mission to encourage more women and POC to submit fantasy stories. Of her alter ego, K from the planet Vega, it is rumored that she owns a time machine and knows the secret to immortality. She can be found online at khaalidah.com and on Twitter as @khaalidah.