My first novella, City of Kaiju, is finally out! Available through Amazon and Books2Read. You can see a preview of the very first chapter here. Help support a fresh new author with a fantastic read this summer.
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Today’s short story is The Silent Flowers of the Magician’s Garden by Eleanna Castroianni, as featured in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. You can find it here. This story is a poetic metaphor, like a tale woven from one of the characters. Let’s see this tale unfold, shall we?
But before we begin, a side note I should bring up. SFWA raised their rates for paying authors. Instead of .06 per word, it’s .08 per word. Might not seem like a huge upgrade, but for payment, it’s a lot. Magazines should pay whenever possible to the authors who get published, but sometimes, the cost isn’t as viable. If possible, please buy the issues that I post here. They are affiliate links, but every purchase means more fantastic tales from these short publications. Even if it’s free on the web, every support counts.
Anyway, let’s begin
The Silent Flowers of the Magician’s Garden
The story involves a young man enlisted in a brutal war. Copper, the hero, is torn between going to war, and living a life of magic, while discovering how the King’s magician’s flowers sing. However, his flowers don’t sing. What could be the reason.
This was a great story to go through following a young boy’s withering innocence fade before his eyes. You find a sort of relatability to the hero, torn between becoming a magician and serving in war, forced against his will for bloodshed and fury. Its message about adhering to masculine portrayals of tough guys and hardened soldiers, rather than innocence and magic, has been ingrained in our culture for centuries. Only boys have imagination, not men.
That is reflected in the main character, as throughout the story, his desire, his true purpose, is torn away by power hungry soldiers who only want bloodshed and little else. War isn’t pretty. It’s terrifying and these days, it’s nothing short of barbaric. It’s someone even myself would have found to be a hard predicament, because you can’t walk away from war once it’s begun. It stays with you, eats you alive. It’s not just about supporting troops, it’s making sure they don’t go mad from the horror.
You look at real life and the admiration of soldiers going off to war. Very few have actually lived it. There’s a difference between supporting troops overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, and trying to be there fighting alongside your fellow soldiers, watching them die in the most painful way possible, suffering as you watch the tragedy unfold.
Of course, I realized I’m writing kidlit so, perhaps we should be a little more happy.
But war isn’t pretty, we’ve established that. So what happens when a young man with a desire for innocence is forced to do what his father says? He can only obey.
Throughout the story, Copper visits the Magician, the last thing connecting his innocence together. His flowers sing, and it triggers a sense of imagination within him. How do the flowers sing, and why aren’t his flowers singing. The ending, while easy to see, makes it loud and clear the consequences of war, but that sense of innocence, I feel, is more vital to our humanity than anything else, perhaps even more than food and water.
This story does a fantastic job of showcasing the infamy of war and the harsh effects it has on the land and nature. Smoke, gas, bullets, fire, destruction in it’s wake. If you look at pictures of the aftermath of WWII, or heck, even arab cities from the current war, you can see the devastation that follows when two nations go to war for months, years, or nowadays, decades. Most authors kind of handwave the aspects of war or even place it in the background. That’s fine. I’m not expecting everyone to follow this example, especially military authors.
But to go into detail the horrors of war, even as light as shown here, is no doubt hard to pull off. It could easily be seen a preachy, tone deaf, or worse, not taken seriously. This story succeeds in showing what happens when innocence dies, when happiness dies, when being yourself dies. This is another recommendation for anyone wanting a touching, gripping tale about the consequences of war.
That’s all for today. If you liked this post and want to see more, I have a Ko-Fi page set up. Why spend three bucks on a Starbucks Coffee when you can help support hard-working authors like me? Every bit helps and keeps me going. So thank you, and remember, the inn is always open.