Four weekends from now, Atlanta, GA will turn Geek. Hordes of stormtroopers, Starfleet officers, kings, queens, princesses, knights, fairies, gargoyles, superheroes, supervillains, Weeping Angels, and various incarnations of the Doctor will invade its streets. That’s right — DragonCon is coming. This 2015 Con will be my twelfth overall, and my eleventh performing with the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company, and of course I’m anticipating all the things I usually anticipate. (A “Five Things I Love about… DragonCon” blog is in the offing.) But this Con will be special to me, for two big reasons. First, Gilded Dragonfly Books will have a booth in the Exhibit Hall, where its short story anthologies and its novels, including Atterwald, will be on sale. Second, a brand-new anthology, Legends of the Dragon, Vol. 1, will be available. This one is full of stories set at DragonCon itself. Check out the gorgeous cover art!
Here’s an excerpt from my own story, “Firegale at the Festival”:
Only twelve of us are left in the world. We dwell in cities far apart and conceal ourselves in underground lairs, emerging only in the forms of shadows or shrunken to a salamander’s size. We might perish of loneliness, were it not for the wizards who care for us.
In the early years of the Thousands, I lived under Underground Atlanta.
Under cover of night I would take to the sky. I’d rise from the grate a stream of intangible black and shoot upward, swift as an arrow, toward the stars. I’d twirl around the golden dome of the Capitol and dive and loop around the shining banners of Marriott and Hilton and indulge in a wild, vain fancy of soaring in my true form, the moonlight glancing off my outspread wings, my black scales a shimmering florescent blue, a thing of beauty to delight the eyes of the lost, tired, or old in heart who might glance up from the streets below.
When I first fledged, my wizard caretaker gave me my adult name, Firegale, and told me my mission: to study what humankind says about us. That meant I had to read every word humans have written about us, and watch every movie and television show and listen to every song or radio play I could find that mentioned us. I spent many an afternoon crouched in the corner of a dark movie theater, a shadow among shadows, and many an evening trailing along library shelves. My wizard helped, paying for a cable television hookup in my lair and bringing me armfuls of books and DVDs and Blu-Rays. At times it felt a bit overwhelming. But in truth, I loved my work.
There began my passion for what humankind terms “the fantastic,” the stories that take place in great lands that never were, where people live as people never lived, yet somehow manage to tell truths missing from tales that deal in literal realities. I learned the fantastic reaches something eternal in us, beyond trends and customs and the tides of politics. Yes, us, for the fantastic taught me how much I had in common with humankind. Lost in the fantastic, I was never lonely.
I wasn’t satisfied with learning what humans say about us. I wanted to learn their stories about elves as well, and trolls, goblins, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, mer-folk. I wanted to know of Jedi and Sith, of Romulans, Klingons, and Vulcans, of Time Lords and Companions, of superheroes and supervillains. Such tales were my food. I grew so big on them that I imagined myself bursting through the pavement that covered me.
Each year one time and place was dearer to me than all the rest. Then and there I could swim in a great sea of the fantastic, and everywhere I turned I found stories to feast upon. At this time, my wizard caretaker worked upon me the magic I couldn’t work upon myself, to turn me, for four short days, into a human.
The festival was called, to my great delight, DragonCon.
(My heroine anticipates that this particular Con will be just like all the rest she’s enjoyed, but it turns out to be unique. Read the tale to find out how.)