Short Story Highlight: “Courtship in the Country of Machine-Gods” by Benjanun Sriduangkaew (Thailand)

New Thai writer Benjanun Sriduangkaew has a new story in The Future Fire magazine: Courtship in the Country of Machine-Gods:

In the shadow of machine-gods I tell wayfarers of a time where my people was a nightmare the color of hemorrhage and glinting teeth.

There are other narratives, but this is one they want to hear most, the one they pay with their adoration and bright-eyed want, for they’ve never known us for anything but peace. Conflict juts out from the skein of Pojama’s history, broken glass-shard, rupturing and ruptured.

I smile; I oblige. Though the story is for me there are parts that I share simply for the reality of speaking it out loud, for the virtue of being heard.

My mouth moves, output for one of my cranial chips. My fingers sketch, autopilot, the forms of our heroes and enemies from a continent whose name and life have now been lost. My voice murmurs the tragedies and sings the heroics of Kanrisa and Surada, rising for climax, falling soft for denouement. The visitors’ district is machine-dead. What thrill it must be to hear the thunderclap notes of my gloves, behold the psychedelic fires that pour from my nails.

Once, they interrupt. The figures of our enemies do not seem real. They are right: with sagging eyes the hues of cheap jades and faces like skulls, even for villains they are too fantastical, too unhuman.

“My great-grandmother told of them so,” I say and shrug. “Perhaps she was senile.” With a motion I turn the figures into shapes more familiar, shapes more like ours.

Inside the vessel of my thought—a garden of sliding intelligences who whisper to me, childhood mates grown to adults next to my ventricles and lungs—a different story unfolds. – continue reading.


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