Pantry Castle Salamander (finale)

(back to part one)

(reading time: 42 minutes)

Peanut Sprouts

The daylight came as it always had, despite Wilmot not feeling ready for it. When the towels had lost all their heat they were merely damp; he threw them off like wet leaves. There was much activity just outside of his room, but none of it was panicked, just the excitement one would expect for the finale of the Chairman’s Banquet.

His stomach churned and made a sound. He thanked the culinary gods for leaving his needs and desires intact. Whatever madness plagued his mind would have to be held back until after the competition; then he was free to go exactly as insane as he pleased.

First they had to crown a winner, and Wilmot Barclay had to record it. When he emerged he left as much of the previous night as he could wrapped up in the heavy towels and put a smile on his face. He was one of the first ones to his seat. Continue reading

Pantry Castle Salamander (part one)

Wilmot Barclay is a culinary explorer traveling the world to help define the cuisine of his fledgling country: Liberia.  He thinks he has tasted it all until he lands on a mysterious island off the coast of Japan, harboring all the ingredients of the world within an incredible castle.  Earth’s greatest cooking competition is just about to begin there, but some of what’s on offer is leaving a most suspicious aftertaste.

(reading time: 1 hour, 25 minutes) (reading time for entire novella: 2 hours, 7 minutes)

Pantry Castle

Salamander

by

Blaine Arcade

Jollof Rice

Countless words are lost in the ecstasy of a good meal, their structure overpowered by much more ancient and instinctive sounds. Exquisite becomes ehhnnn. Scrumptious becomes sfffshh. Magnificent into Mfff! In this way it can be extraordinarily difficult for a master of cuisine to receive helpful criticism. They know their work is good, so good it can’t be put into words, and that prevents them from progressing in their passion.

This presents a culinary ceiling. The barrier where words fail, where the tongue cannot be tamed enough for syllables, was the threshold Wilmot Barclay set for himself. He would need to perfect a number of dishes that made words fail, and they had to fail in a room full of equally fresh diplomats and statesman… but he was getting ahead of himself. Continue reading

Planet in Theory: Pluto Takes the Stage (finale)

(back to part one)

(reading time: 1 hour, 55 minutes)

An Excerpt from Masquerade Monthly, Issue #34

Available at Aleatory Books

As our regular readers will know by now, we’re committed to offering everyone on Pluto the most sound and fashionable advice when it comes to selecting and wearing emergency masks, whether likelihood is a concern or you’re just looking to spice up your Friday night look. Admittedly, we tend to get caught up in trends, what with the planet’s wealth of fine craftsmen at our disposal.

Today we reach into the back of the mask drawer, tackling queries sent by many a reader regarding nontraditional and improvised masks. Many of you have also expressed an interest in so called ‘minimal masks’, here meaning items worn upon the face that one would not expect to count as identity forming but have nonetheless been demonstrated to work as such. Continue reading

Planet in Theory: Pluto Takes the Stage (part four)

(back to part one)

(reading time: 1 hour, 25 minutes)

One in a Simillion

Popcorn’s here finally. I’m starving. Hey, over here moron!” Toddy Hot raised his hand and snapped his fingers several times to get the crazy8’s attention. The person who’d been set to the task of fetching the refreshments barely knew where they were, and certainly didn’t understand what kind of crowd surrounded them.

Since they were wearing a red striped shirt and a little paper hat they assumed they were an employee of this entertainment venue and it was their responsibility to serve anyone else there. At the moment they were on the carpeted stairs between rows of descending seats, and down at the center there was a boxing ring, though the 2 men inside it were conversing instead of throwing punches. Continue reading

Planet in Theory: Pluto Takes the Stage (part three)

(back to part one)

(reading time: 1 hour, 24 minutes)

The 9th Life of Long Odd Silver

We are closed!” Minty shouted as she rushed toward the front door in her green silk pajamas. It was so early in the morning that there was only a shred of daylight outside, so she held an illuminated card up like a candle, footage of a yellow flame flickering. Her feet were bare and her glasses resting comfortably on her nightstand a few rooms away.

Whunk whunk whunk! The knock came again, though it was more like somebody swinging a sack of potatoes against the wood. Then there was another knock from a different angle, smaller, harder, more persistent. Then another. It was hammering, she realized. Continue reading

Planet in Theory: Pluto Takes the Stage (part two)

(back to part one)

(reading time: 1 hour, 10 minutes)

Request in the Public Interest

For all the talk of Pluto of having opinions, of it styling its population’s civilization, against their will, after the early half of the 20th century, probably because that was when its own planethood was most aggressively speculated and it was nostalgic, the truth is that it was much more of a natural reaction.

If opinion came into it all, it was likely influence from human possibilities. Everyone past the dawn of plastic pines for the good old days of wood, paper, metal, and glass. While they want the smell and look of those things, in the end they’ll happily give it all up for the conveniences of the 21st, computing prime among them. Continue reading

Planet in Theory: Pluto Takes the Stage (Part One)

Past the facts lies a realm where your guess has to be good enough: probable space!  Its places and peoples have their own odds, from 2to1 on down, getting less substantial all the way.  All the planets there are the ones merely theorized here, from tiny Vulcan, to Counter-Earth, to Phaeton, and now beyond to… Pluto?

The poor orbiting body’s downgrade from planet to dwarf shoved it into the realm of theory, so it popped up in probable space, complete with an adult population shocked to find themselves alive!  One such Plutonian is Minty Julip, who is nearly sure she is a librarian, and hopes to stay that way, but many are vying for power in their fresh world, and they think she belongs in the battle.

That battle will suck her into a chaotic maelstrom of criminal organizations, weaponized cardistry, literal storms of cats and dogs, and an unlikely companion calling themselves Long Odd Silver.  There may be no escape for her, but in probable space one can never be so sure.

(reading time: 1 hour, 9 minutes) (reading time for entire novel: 7 hours, 3 minutes)

Planet in Theory

Pluto takes the Stage

by

Blaine Arcade

In Media Res

Cherry-picking is both hope and folly. The brightest and sweetest on the tree exist, sure, spectrums need starting gates and finish lines as much as anything else, but to pretend it represents the whole is to wind up with a pie that looks great but sourly disappoints.

And I know salt and cherries don’t really go together, but you should still take what I’m about to say with a grain of it. I admit that I’ve cherry-picked these, out of 7 seas of reactions, just to give you an idea of how intensely this development struck some people. Continue reading

Jesus has the Wheels

(reading time: 25 minutes)

Jesus has the Wheels

by

Blaine Arcade

It was rare to see such a nice car in Watershed, and even rarer to see one driving with purpose, never stopping once for the driver to swear at their GPS until it got them out of that mosquito-infested and mosquito-invested bog that called itself a town.

Tom knew cars, on account of a few years working as a mechanic, and he couldn’t recall if he’d ever even worked on such a fine piece of machinery. He expected it to drive on by, as nobody sitting in that sort of thing could have any business with him, but it stopped, for the first time in days, at the foot of his gravel driveway. Continue reading

Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner

(reading time: 30 minutes)

Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner
(click here for audiobook)

Rethought
Resized
Rewritten
Rerhymed
Retold

by

Blaine Arcade
who has shamelessly molded it from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner 


Argument

In which a harmonious utopia is upset by the harmony's approaching finale, and how one subject journeys with subjects of his own in search of the responsible musicians, only to find themselves beset by monsters, divine jailers, and the collapsing forces of nature.




Part Triangle

First it was saved, then it arrived
for them the date of dates
on the invitation described
1798

Continue reading