Katherine Mankiller

Underworld, by Katherine Mankiller
October 14, 2018, 9:27 am
Filed under: short fiction

Originally published in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, January 2015.  (The site appears to be defunct.)

Tucking his computer science textbook and his Book of Shadows into his backpack, Dion dropped the bag onto the floor at the foot of his bed, and launched World of Warcraft. He selected his realm: Earthen Ring. He was number eighty in the queue. Expected wait time: twenty minutes. Stupid server. He glanced over at the wilted plant on the window sill and waved his wand. It perked up.

His mother wandered into the room, wearing a gold lamé evening dress and hose without shoes. He hid his wand behind his back, but made no attempt to hide the glass of wine on the desk, next to the computer. As long as he didn’t get shit-faced, she had no problem with it.

“Honey, have you seen my rhinestone earrings?” She walked over to his dresser, opened the jewelry box, and looked inside, but Dion knew it didn’t have any rhinestones in it. Just some pentagrams and crystals. “Be careful, baby,” his mother said, picking up the pentagram. “You don’t want to attract the wrong kind of attention.”

Blah blah people will think you’re crazy blah. Like there were no Wiccans in college. “You left them on the bathroom sink, so I put them in the medicine chest,” he said. “I didn’t want them to fall down the drain and get lost.”

She dropped the pentagram back into the jewelry box. “Where would I be without my little man?” She walked over and kissed him on the cheek. Then she left, fancy dress rustling as she headed out the door.

Dion groaned. He was nineteen-years-old and six-foot-one; he was hardly his mother’s little man. “You’re welcome!” He could hear her chuckling in the other room. He glanced down at his computer console again. His position in the queue was now seventy-seven. “I’m not going to have to come rescue you again, am I?” (more…)

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Ondine’s Curse, by Katherine Mankiller
November 5, 2017, 4:39 pm
Filed under: short fiction

(Since the Electric Velocipede site appears to be defunct.  Originally published December 11, 2013.)

She knew the signs of drowning; she’d seen it many times. Mouth below the waterline, arms pressing the body up out of the water for a breath. He didn’t cry out for help, but then again, they never did. Breathing took precedence. He didn’t kick, didn’t thrash. He didn’t have the energy to waste.

She always felt sorry for mortals. So vulnerable, especially in the water. The poor things just couldn’t manage. (more…)

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New Story Available–“Minotaur”
January 14, 2016, 1:16 pm
Filed under: short fiction

Did I really not post here about my latest story?

My story “Minotaur” is available in the Alien Abduction anthology.  Only $5 for the Kindle version, and my aliens are pretty alien.  If you heard me read at the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading at Dragoncon last year, you heard a short excerpt.  Check it out!

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“Underworld” now available!
January 7, 2015, 11:19 pm
Filed under: short fiction

My story “Underworld” is now available at Fantastic Stories of the Imagination.  Check it out!  There’s a great illustration of young Dion the wizard, Semele, and Thanatos!  I love it!


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Art is never finished, only abandoned.
April 27, 2014, 9:27 pm
Filed under: short fiction

I expect that I’m about to frustrate a lot of people, but that’s the way it is.

Back in 2007, I started a “Hurricane Katrina” story.  I wandered around in my post-apocalyptic Probably New Orleans, got lost, deleted 5,000 words, rewrote it a bazillion times, sent it through my writer’s group several times, and had a friend tell me to give up on the story in exasperation.  Another friend kind of felt it was too soon.

Trunk time.

In 2013 I fished it out.  It was better than I remembered.  Also, it kind of predicted the Occupy movement.  I sent it through my writer’s group, sent it to a friend who told me it was a novel, and sent it to my sister.  My sister felt that there wasn’t enough voodoo (fixed!), and advised me to fly to New Orleans and soak up atmosphere (appealing, but…).

I sat on it for another three months, but as I am unlikely to add 80,000 words to my 7,250 word story, I decided to send it out instead.  So, “The Salvage of Nola City” is now making the rounds.

Chinequa could feel the network congestion, almost like sinus pressure. Too much information. She tried to tune it out so she could concentrate on her job, but she could still feel it, trickling at the edge of her consciousness like a crowd in the distance. It didn’t help that Mr. Libby had the door open so he could load his transport, and the heat and humidity were getting in, nor did it help that she didn’t even know if her sister Keisha was still in the city. She hadn’t seen Keisha since Grandma’s funeral, which hurt, because they’d been inseparable as children. But if she got fired the bank would repossess her neural interface implants, so she needed to think.

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New story available! and bonus snippets.
December 11, 2013, 9:23 am
Filed under: short fiction

Thing the first:  My story “Ondine’s Curse” is available in the latest (last, alas) issue of Electric Velocipede.  The Kindle version is here.  The Nook version is here.

Thing the second:  I have two more flash pieces in circulation and forgot to post snippets!

“Lady of the House”:

Aiele’s gold bracelets jangled as she adjusted her veil in the mirror, making certain that the bruises didn’t show. She didn’t want anyone to know that she had already failed to please her new husband Notan. Bruise or no bruise, limp or no limp, she had food to order for Notan’s dinner party.

“Toads and Roses”:

“Hello, Bianca,” the wizard said as he walked through the sitting room door. He was old and fat and rich, and smelled of horrid things–pickled frog’s eyes, perhaps. His hair was greasy and white, and he was dressed in black from head to toe.

Bianca resisted the urge to scoot closer to her sister Esmerelda on the couch and shivered, but not from the cold. She cast her eyes down in an effort to be demure, staring at her dress–blue silk and lace. Esmerelda’s dress was dark and brown, like the wood paneling on the walls, and not as nice as Bianca’s. Bianca felt guilty about that. She didn’t know why her parents liked her best.

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Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
August 20, 2013, 10:33 pm
Filed under: cons, reading

I’ll be reading with Broad Universe at WorldCon, Sunday at 10am in 007B (Convention Center).  I plan to read from “Ondine’s Curse,” which will appear in an upcoming issue of Electric Velocipede.  Come by and say hi!

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“Saving Alan Idle” is now up at Escape Pod
July 5, 2013, 10:20 am
Filed under: short fiction

WOOHOO!  My story “Saving Alan Idle” is now available as both HTML and a podcast.  I’m so excited!


Thanks to everyone who helped me critique it, including, but not limited to: Gary David Henderson, Beth Dawkins, Matthew Quinn, Terra LeMay, Woodrow Jarvis Hill, Michelle Dupler, and Sandy Parsons.

“Digital Death”
May 25, 2013, 1:17 pm
Filed under: cons

The WisCON panel description:

Who gets your ebooks when you die? Your Twitter feed? The baby book that mostly exists on LJ? Do you have an estate plan for all these intangible but valuable assets? When you go, do you want your pages taken down or kept up for all time? Who do you trust to preserve or annihilate your online presence? The legal status of digital media is still a little fuzzy. With more of us and our parents moving that direction, we should think about this not just for ourselves, but our elders. What is the digital equivalent of inheriting grandad’s books, or is it even possible now? Join the discussion on legacies, files, and virtual tombstones.

Yeah, I was on that 8am panel.  😉  With another sysadmin, mind you!  The two sysadmins had two basic approaches to the topic:

  • Love your data.  Cuddle your data.  Back up your data.
  • Embrace bit rot.  All things die, including your data.  Don’t get attached to data, because Buddha says attachment leads to suffering.

I’ll open with my final comment, which is that this is not for you.  It’s a form of consideration for your survivors, and they’ll decide what’s valuable or not in the end.

What if your family is hostile, and doesn’t see the value in what you consider valuable?  Well, if you disagree strenuously, make your works public domain and put them online.  I put a lot of family photos on Flickr, Creative Commons Attributions No Derivatives so my family could download any of them without contortions.  I also had a friend at one point who died, and her mother found out she wrote fan fiction with same-sex romances in it, and her mother embraced that as part of who her daughter was.  (The moderator suggested that “I love my dead slash-writing daughter!” was a whole other possible panel topic.)  That could have gone in a completely different direction, though.

Frankly, I’m not really that concerned about my ebooks, movies, music, etc.  I’m more concerned about my facebook/twitter/personal websites, particularly the obituary sites I put up for my parents.  So my greatest concern with that is the technical know-how associated with maintaining them.  I’d rather they be left up, though, because I had another friend who was sick but didn’t intend to die, and she pre-scheduled a lot of WordPress posts that were tied to her Twitter and Facebook, and those started rolling in after she died.  “New music!” and a link to her playing.  Our first reaction was, “Wahhhhh,” but after a couple of months it was kind of nice.

On the opposite end, I have another friend who has an arrangement with a buddy that if he dies, the buddy will come in and wipe his hard drive so his Mom won’t find his porn or nekkid pictures.

Don’t count on encryption.  Even the best encryption standards get broken over time, so it’ll just make your hard drive a puzzle.  Then it turns out to be a case of whether or not someone thinks the drive is worth the effort.  (“Oh, it’s porn.  2D, how quaint!”)  Do think about the portability of your data (plain text, or HTML, which is plain text with a little markup that can be easily stripped out).

Obituary sites:  I wrote my Mom’s site because someone quoted my sister some exorbitant sum for an obituary online for some limited amount of time, and I said, “Bah, I’ll put it up on my own site.”  So I did, and it remains, and at least one friend of hers found out she was dead by googling her.  My father’s site… well.  My stepmother is not a native English speaker and was really upset, so the funeral home wrote the obituary and it didn’t mention that he had children.  My site for him outranks that other obituary in google–SEO REPRESENT.  However, antispam and upgrading the software is a thing, and does require technical know-how.  You might want a digital executor to be in charge of things like that.  In particular, the spambots will find the site and post 5000 links to “Buy Viagra!” if you let them, and that’ll feel like someone spraypainting on their headstones.  So be prepared.

Last but not least, I’ll reiterate that it’s not really about you.  If you believe in an afterlife, you’ll be in heaven and won’t be too concerned about your Facebook.  If you don’t, you won’t exist and won’t care about your Facebook.  It’s about being considerate to your survivors.

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Sale! “Ondine’s Curse”
April 2, 2013, 10:58 am
Filed under: sale

“Ondine’s Curse” will appear in an upcoming issue of the ever-awesome Electric Velocipede.  Squee!

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