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Friday, May 17, 2013

"Into the Gardens of Sweet Night" by Jay Lake

Originally appeared in WOTF XIX
Nominated for the Hugo 

This has the feel of Lake's Mainspring-universe novels (Mainspring, Escapement, and Pinion) although not as inventive considering it's a novelette.  On an alternate Earth, Elroy joins Wiggle, a well-dressed dog, on his journey in order to get back into the Gardens of Sweet Night, in orbit around the world--even though he doesn't believe the myth of Sweet Night.  Security wolves attack and dog their every step because former-gardener Wiggles ate the apples of Lord Liasis.  They stow away on a dirigible and attend their own sky burial.  Finally, they make it up into orbit, where they meet Lord Liasis himself.

The opening title "Chance Meeting" describes Lake's modus operandi in his early work often nigh-picaresque although here it merely ambles to its beginning.  Lake's labors focus on the strong narrative voice and evocation of a new world.  This particular tale thumbs its nose at a literalized God who lives in the sky, making people play games with life.  Everyman Elroy chooses, instead of a lord of space, an ordinary life.

Great line of dialogue:
"Trust us, you'll feel like a new man after the funeral."

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