Behind the Curtain


I’ve posted this story here, now, because it is not soon to appear anywhere else. It’s been a heartbreaker for me for a couple of years now, and gotten very positive words, just shy of actual purchase, from more venues than anything else I have ever submitted. It’s just not quite right for anyone I’ve sent it to. How close it’s come to being right for so many places, and how right it is for me, makes me confident I’m not just wasting your time by posting it here. I hope you all agree

I adore stories written as dialogue only, old British sketch comedy, and making fun of over-dense fantasy universes that try to include every element of pseudo-European myth the author can think of. I don’t mind fantasy like that, but, as this story shows, I do think it’s best when it devolves to comedy.

I imagine this story as a bit of Monty Python style riffing, complete with an ending that is as much a transition to the next piece and a way to get off the stage as it is a neat wrap up. Perhaps Comstock is played by a younger John Cleese, or perhaps if the sketch was recorded later, by Stephen Fry.

Maybe that simple punch of profanity and not-much-else is why the story never quite made it past the final hurdle, but I’m not sure. The riff could go on endlessly of course, but it wouldn’t be much of story if they simply had a party in the end, would it?

— R. K. Duncan, October 25, 2018.