As part of the promotion for the launch of John Joseph Adams’ EPIC anthology (more info here), you can now read my short story “As the Wheel Turns” (associated author interview is here). This is, er, another instance of a time machine story–written well over 4-5 years ago and in a style that I don’t think I could reproduce now, even if I tried. But hey, it got me into an anthology with Ursula Le Guin and Kate Elliott!
In case you’re wondering, I wrote this by drawing on the stories I read/was told as a child–it’s not strictly accurate historical China so much as a fairytale version of it, coupled with my misunderstanding a couple of things because I was very young when I heard said stories (and also the fact that Chinese culture != Vietnamese culture, though they of course share a bunch of common tropes/myths/etc.). But I still have a fondness for the story; it’s not every day you get to write a story with multiple reincarnations of the protagonist. Do tell me what you think of it.
(if you were at WFC, this is the story I read the first third from at the EPIC group reading–I know some people asked me if they could find it elsewhere, and I apologise for completely blanking on the fact that Lightspeed was going to reprint it…)
In the Tenth Court of Hell stands the Wheel of Rebirth.
Its spokes are of red lacquered wood; it creaks as demons pull it, dragging its load of souls back into the world.
And before the Wheel stands the Lady.
Every soul who goes to the Wheel must endure her gaze. Every soul must stop by her, and take from her pale hands the celadon cup, and drink.
The drink is herbs gathered from the surfaces of ponds, tears taken from the eyes of children, scales shed from old, wise dragons. To drink is to forget, for no soul can come back into the world remembering past lives, or the punishments meted out to it within the other Courts of Hell.