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GASLANDIA - "A Fifth World"

Archiving this from the front page news, as I gotta make room for bigger and better news there.


Happy new year, albeit belatedly. Biggest new news is as follows. The GASLANDIA anthology, featuring my short story "A Fifth World," is now available (as an ebook.) Follow the link to obtain to learn more. I'd say it's for sale immediately, but that doesn't appear to be the case.

As for the story itself, it's about the inability to find a place for one's self. This one just happens to be set in an alternate past, where FDR was deposed after a coup and the USA is at war with itself, thinking things were just in the mopping-up phase. That breeds overconfidence.

I'm including a sample of the first few pages to let you figure out if you want it or not. Hint: you want it.


God’s always hungry. Didn’t take very long for me to figure that one out. He made up the Heaven and the Earth and it didn’t take him more than that seven days to start eating it up. Nothing would satisfy him.

Of course, I’m talking about the god of my father, the god of the white man. My mother’s people don’t have anyone like that. I can’t tell you which is wiser because I’m on a path in-between those two. This is something I have a lot of time to think about, given over to the fact that my legs don’t work very well, so getting around takes me longer than most.

But I can remember a time when they used to. That was back in Arizona under skies that were wide and I could play in lands that were bounded at first by the four sacred peaks of my people, and later by the four walls of my room when polio made a friend of me and like some friends, took me down the wrong path. Then it was to Los Angeles and the factories and neighborhoods there. People making machines to fight a war and the shifts went around the clock, so I never saw my father much and my mother had all the time in the world to teach me the language of her people, the Diné, which some people call the Navajo and most just call Indians.

But see, I’m between these worlds. I get time to think about this as I approach the outer walls of the landing field. And there, visible past the hurricane fencing and guard shacks and repair sheds, sits the servant of the hungriest god of all. They call it Current of Eagles, owing to the electricity that powers it and the freedom that it brings by way of the Great Persuader mounted on its bow.

Imagine a five-pointed star, only make it as big as several city blocks. Like that whole cluster of downtown LA. Now seat a sort of steel dome chased with chrome and antennas at each of the points. These are the engines, the repulsives. They turn gravity off and let this whole thing lift impossibly up, across the entirety of the Legion States of America if need be. Then it positions the Great Persuader and . . .

And I often wonder about this path that I’ve been forced to walk.


The first thing that hits me as I approach is the hum of the repulsive engines. I am old enough to remember hearing thunder at night as it came across the valley and hills and hit hard like stone even though it could only barely be heard. The repulsives are just the same, not sound but sensation, a bad weight across the middle and in your hollows. It gets worse as I come to the crew intake. My legs and the metal around them feel as strange as always and I’m forced to concentrate to keep them from working wrong. I can kick a hole in a brick wall with these electro-braces, but I have to move like a turtle so I don’t injure myself.

The engines and their electromagnetic magic suspend gravity and weight so long as they run. I could move the Current of Eagles with a single hand if I wanted to. A ship wider across than a football field and made with a graceful swoop and span of steel that weighed countless tons. And I could move it with my hand now.

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