Meet the stories
Delightful, shocking, unique, extraordinary… these are the tales you’ll find in From the Waste Land.
The Old World
In ‘A Dusty Handful’, Aveline Perez de Vera invites us on board a dirigible circus, tethered at Big Ben over London-That-Was, to solve the mystery of the missing trapeze artist. Still in London, Laura E Goodin takes us to an alternative sixteenth century, where a half-trained sorcerer and the queen of the realm defy the eldritch being that’s cursed her family, tormented her people – the dire ‘Watcher of Greenwich’. In the tight, emotionally draining medieval fantasy ‘She Who Walks Behind You’, Leanbh Pearson transforms sword-and-spirit into a fresh tale of lost loves and loneliness. Oh, isolation ever so shattering!
Back in the land of Oz, BP Marshall tracks the journey of a prophet and his disciple across a ruined landscape as they carry the last truth to humanity’s survivors in his story ‘Fragments of Ruin’. A climate apocalypse underpins a swathe of the stories, reflecting humanity’s struggle to recognise and react to our own world’s endangerment. In ‘Dry Bones’, Robert Hood shows us a terrifying future, where all the technology at our disposal can’t solve the deadly heat, violent weather and rising ocean levels, while survivors slowly disappear, transformed into mere skeletons overnight. Louise Zedda Sampson pulls her focus much more tightly, trapping us in the violent atmosphere of an all too ordinary home, where a red rock holds the key to a woman’s fate.
The Unsafe Family
Family horror also awaits in Eugen Bacon’s ‘And Fiddled Whisper Music on Those Strings’ as a young girl chooses violence in answer to her own torments. More families fracture in Rebecca Fraser’s ‘Fawdaze’ when two sisters face an unearthly stranger in a story that harnesses misogyny and climate destruction to change everyone’s destiny.
The First World War
Aided by a benevolent ghost, a family of sorts gathers in a ruined village on the Western Front as Great War battles rage in Clare Rhoden’s ‘A Winter Respite’. The pathos and pointlessness of war, so evident in Russia’s war in Ukraine as it was those many years ago since 1914, resonate in Jeff Clulow’s ‘Rats Alley’., where the aftermath of the Great War ruptures society again when a soldier facing death in the trenches makes a dark bargain to save his life. Austin P Sheehan plunges us to the middle of a magical war, where an expedient king spends lives without a thought for the cost: what if the beloved dead actually return?
The terrifying future
The future worries our writers, and other stories take us far into the unknown. Francesca Bussey’s heroine in ‘April’, alone on the post-pandemic landscape, chooses an abandoned church for shelter and awakens angry spirits. Tim Law’s man of the land chases a dream of perfection in ‘Over the Mountain’, to find that true love lies in nurturing the soils of home, forming a modern parable about caring for our environment. Digging for the truth in Cat Sparks’ ‘Dead Men’, teenage friends uncover more truths than they expect when a fierce storm washes up old technological artefacts.
Fighting for the future
The catastrophic breakdown of society infects Geneve Flynn’s story ‘Lidless Eyes That See’. In this story, a woman and a boy travel through post-apocalyptic ruins, telling each other a story that neither can survive with intact sanity. A related theme underpins Rebecca Dale’s ‘A Witch’s Bargain’, where the fight for a humane future involves arcane magic and unlikely democratic processes.
Even further into the future in ‘Death By Water’ , Grace Chan offers the tale of a bionic archaeologist investigating a bygone disaster on the planet Orpheus – a story whose heartbeat ponders the persistence of the spirit. Another glimpse into futuristic far space opens in Tee Linden’s ‘Exhausted Wells’, where a team of desperate survivors search one of Saturn’s moons for water. Can everything be dead?
Dealing with death for life
We finally arrive at Nikky Lee’s ‘The Violet Hour’, in which those who are the right kind of desperate can play a game of chess with a deadly wager. A win will grant them their greatest wish, a loss will cost them years from their lives. All the while, an eternal spirit hopes for relief and a better outcome.
From the Waste Land: stories inspired by TS Eliot, edited by Clare Rhoden, will be released by PS Publishing UK in November 2022.