Read Across the Spectrum Online

Authors: Pati Nagle,editors Deborah J. Ross

Tags: #romance, #science fiction, #short stories, #historical, #fantasy

Across the Spectrum

BOOK: Across the Spectrum
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Book View Café’s 5th Anniversary Celebration

Edited by

Pati Nagle


Deborah J. Ross

Book View Café Publishing Cooperative
November 5, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-61138-337-9
Copyright © 2013 Book View Café Publishing Cooperative

Table of Contents

Introduction, by Pati Nagle & Deborah J. Ross

Shapeshifter Finals, by Jeffrey A. Carver

Feef’s House, by Doranna Durgin

Ukaliq and the Great Hunt, by David D. Levine

Parsley, Space, Rosemary, and Time, by Katharine Kerr

Monsoon Day, by Mary Anne Mohanraj

The Fiddler’s Price, by Sarah Zettel

Solstice, by Jennifer Stevenson

Cuckoo, by Madeleine E. Robins

Nine White Horses, by Judith Tarr

Handing on the Goggles, by Brenda W. Clough

Litany of Hope, by Irene Radford

By the Sea, by Shannon Page

Climbing to the Moon, by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Cornfield, by P.G. Nagle

Ducks, by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel

Short Timer, by Dave Smeds

Terminal, by Chaz Brenchley

Suraki, by Dave Trowbridge

The Honor of the Ferrocarril, by Sylvia Kelso

Transfusion, by Deborah J. Ross

Survival Skills, by Nancy Jane Moore

Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand, by Vonda N. McIntyre

The Deaths of Christopher Marlowe, by Marie Brennan

Lady Invisible, by Patricia Rice

Mom and Dad at the Home Front, by Sherwood Smith

Perfect Stranger, by Amy Sterling Casil

The Alzheimer’s Book Club, by Jill Zeller

Betrayal, by Mindy Klasky

Art & Science, by Sue Lange

Genuine Old Master, by Marion Zimmer Bradley

About the Authors

Copyright & Credits

Copyright Acknowledgments

About Book View Café


Five years ago, a group of fantasy and science fiction
writers launched a dream: a website where they could promote themselves and
each other, sharing the burden of marketing their work. That website is, and the group has grown from a handful to over forty
professional writers from all over the globe.

Book View Café is a unique organization: a cooperative
publisher that returns 95% of profits from its sales to the authors. The
website has evolved from a free-fiction marketing site to a complete online
bookstore, carrying both backlist titles and original works by BVC members,
accompanied by a popular blog featuring daily posts on a wide variety of

BVC has published eight previous anthologies, including
fantasy, science fiction, steampunk, and advice on writing. To celebrate our
fifth anniversary, we created an anthology that covers the spectrum of what our
members write. In these pages you will find plenty of the fantasy and science
fiction that represents our roots, but you’ll also see mainstream, romance,
historical fiction, and more.

We asked our members to send us their favorite stories. They
responded with a wonderful array of tales that speak from and to the heart.

Along with the familiar BVC members in this volume (many of
them founders), you will also find some new names, folks who have very recently
joined the cooperative: The Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, Doranna Durgin, Mary
Anne Mohanraj, Shannon Page, and Jill Zeller. We welcome them and look forward
to seeing more from all of them soon.

—Pati Nagle

—Deborah J. Ross

Shapeshifter Finals
Jeffrey A. Carver

“Shapeshifter Finals” is exceptional in my published stories
in that it owes its genesis to a direct invitation. One Sunday morning in 1993,
the telephone rang. My wife answered it. Her voice went funny, and she turned
to me, I swear, with stars in her eyes. She said, “It’s Roger Zelazny!” At that moment, time went sort of funny, and I
sat bolt upright in bed. “He says he’s sorry to interrupt your work time, but
he has a question for you.” She might as well have said, “It’s the Angel
Gabriel, and he’d like to have a word with you.”

He was calling to invite me to write a story for him. He was
editing an anthology,
Warriors of Blood and
about soldiers and martial arts in various science fictional
forms, and he was looking for something different. He remembered reading somewhere
that I had been a high school wrestler. Would I consider writing a science
fiction story for him about wrestling?

I hesitated. I stammered. I gulped. I said, “I don’t, um,
actually write that many short stories. I’m, uh, more of a long . . .
novel . . . sort of writer.”

Roger was quiet.

Deeply grateful that we didn’t have videophones (Skype was far
in the future), I hemmed. I hawed. I finally stuttered that I’d think about it,
and if an idea came to me, I’d see what I could do.

Roger thanked me politely, and hung up.

Three days later, the idea for this story came to me. I sat
down and wrote furiously, forgetting whatever else I was working on. I polished
it, and I sent it to Roger. He liked it, and bought it for his anthology. I’m delighted to see it gathered here with the excellent work of my friends from Book View Café.

By the way, I never dreamed at the time that one of my
would become a high school wrestler, and follow in my footsteps in a
wholly unexpected way. Unlike my hero, she never went up against a

∞ ∞ ∞

The crowd roared as the first pair of wrestlers engaged in
competition out on the center mat.
“HUGGA-HUGGGA-HUGGGA-HUGGGA!” “Wickety-(psicry!)-wickety-(psicry!)-wickety-(psicry!)”
Hog Donovan peeked over in the direction of the match, but tried not to get
drawn into watching it. Neither of the contestants in the ninety-three pound
class was human, and better he should keep his mind on his own upcoming match.

“Gaaiiee! Gaaiiee!” “Brackit-it-it-it-it-it-it-it-it!”
The assortment of cries from the stands was damned
disconcerting, the crowd being over half extraterrestrials. It was the opening
bout, finals round, in the 57,463rd Annual Games of the IntraGalactic
Interworld Multicultural Amateur Wrestling League—and the first games ever to
be hosted by Earth. Hog Donovan prayed that the human fans could drown out all
the ETs when he got to the mat himself. He was as nervous as a laboratory rat on
speed, and he was going to need all the psychological boost he could get.

Hog paced the warm-up area in his tights and warm-up jacket,
trying to still the butterflies in his stomach. It would be at least forty
minutes yet before they called him to the mat, for the hundred thirty-eight
pound finals. An eternity! Hog threw himself into his warm-up exercises and
tried to blank out everything else.

Bye-bye baby, baby bye-bye . . .
refrain of a popular song repeated mercilessly in his head, warring with the
cheers of the crowd.

Hog grunted, working up a good sweat. Hog indeed! He was
long and whiplike, and bore his nickname only because his old heavyweight
friend, Hermie “Harmin’” Harmon, had dubbed him “Hog” in retribution for his
jokes about Harmon’s rhinolike neck. Those were the old days, but the name had
stuck . . .

The crowd roared, and Hog was startled to realize that the
first match was over—the victor a mercurial-skinned creature from Tau Ceti. The
next weight class was up, and—hey!—this was the only other human finalist, a
wiry little Brit named Johnnie Johnson, up against some sort of centipede from
the Vega asteroids.

Hog ducked through to the sidelines to yell encouragement.
’im hell, Johnnie!”
he hollered as the Earthman trotted onto the mat. His
voice was drowned out by a loud buzzing. Up in the stands, a large contingent
of centipede fans were rubbing their upper limbs together, en masse, cheering
on their fellow Vegan.

Hog suppressed a shudder as he watched Johnnie engage the
centipede from a standing position. All those
. And they were so . . .
insectlike. And quick. With a chitter and a blur of speed, the centipede caught
Johnnie’s left ankle with several of its legs, and tripped him for a two-point
takedown. The crowd buzzed in appreciation.

“Get up! Keep moving!” Hog yelled.

Tap tap.
Hog started at the rap on the top of his
head, and turned to see Coach Tagget urging him away from the sidelines. “But

“Hog, go warm up. Don’t fret over Johnnie, you’re just
scaring yourself.” Tagget rapped him on the skull again. “Don’t forget—”

“I know, I know, the brain is the most important muscle,”
Hog repeated by rote, as he turned back to the warm-up area.

about your match.
Coach Tagget
urged, as Hog resumed his stretches. After a moment, satisfied with Hog’s
progress, the coach left to go watch Johnnie himself.

Think, right. Think about the fact that he was about to
wrestle an alien named Belduki-Elikitango-Hardart-Colloidisan, an Ektra
shapechanger capable of assuming about a thousand different multiworld
multicultural body configurations. He was thinking about it, all right. And he
was having trouble keeping his knees from shaking.

Bye-bye baby, baby bye-bye . . .

He remembered how smug the Earth promoters had been when the
IIMAWL rules committee had offered to make Terran rules the norm for this
tournament, in honor of the hosting world. Of course, none of the promoters had
about the fact that Earth’s wrestlers would be competing
against sentient bugs, snakes, gorillas . . . and shapeshifters . . .
except that they’d finally decreed a return to the more modest, and protective,
tights in place of skimpy singlets. In other respects, the referees’
interpretation of Earth’s rules had turned out to be a tad subjective, to say
the least.


The single shout from the Brit’s coach was drowned out by a
rising buzz from the crowd. Hog jumped up, trying to see what was happening.
The centipede buzz crescendoed. Hog ducked through an opening in the sidelines
crowd to get a better view.

Uh-oh. Johnnie was in big trouble. The centipede had him
halfway onto his back, with about six legs pushing his shoulders toward the
mat. Hog knelt on the sidelines, twisting and arching sympathetically as
Johnnie struggled against the inexorable leverage of all those limbs. Johnnie’s
coach, a wiry little man, was screaming,
“Scoot out! Scoot out!”
making futile sweeping gestures with his arms.

Hog cupped his hands and screamed, “PULL HIS ANTENNAS! PULL

The match seemed to freeze abruptly, as the centipede cocked
its head and glared across the mat at Hog with all four eyes. Its hairy
antennas bristled. Hog gulped, regretting his impulsive yell. The thing looked
as if it might just abandon the match and come on over and stomp him for his
remark. It appeared to have completely forgotten its opponent.

Johnnie seized the opportunity. For an instant, it looked as
though he might actually grab the thing’s antennas—which would have been a
definite foul—but instead, Johnnie managed to get an elbow inside the thing’s
legs and knock out several locked joints, loosening the centipede’s grip. The
crowd buzzed, and the centipede turned back to its opponent, but Johnnie was
already wriggling quickly out of its arms.

“That’s it! That’s it! That’s it!”
screamed the
coach, waving wildly.

Johnnie was frantically trying to complete his escape. He
had one leg out now and was up on the other knee. The human crowd was

BOOK: Across the Spectrum
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