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The first rule of Pride Day: DO talk about Pride Day

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The newly-formed and super awesome Outer Alliance has declared today Pride Day and has asked those of us who are members to post the Outer Alliance mission statement as a sign of support and solidarity, which I will happily do:

As a member of the Outer Alliance, I advocate for queer speculative fiction and those who create, publish and support it, whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity.  I make sure this is reflected in my actions and my work.

The next part of Pride Day is to post a bit of something queer and speculative. So: this is the first section of a story that I could never quite get to go right, though I still love it and hope I’ll be able to figure it out someday. It’s a ghost story, and it’s also Much Ado About Nothing. It’s called “The Former Hero.” Excerpt below the jump.

Edited to add: It occurs to me that I should also mention that my first novel, Alcestis, is also a work of queer historical fantasy. It’ll be out in February 2010 from Soho Press.

“The Former Hero”

She was almost a copy of Hero. Leonato, Hero’s father, said it, and everyone agreed. When they were small, they looked so alike that the servants whispered of changeling children. Two spring babies, two blinking sets of indigo eyes. Two pale girl cousins with hair dark as an Ethiope’s and mouths hibiscus-red.

How could twins have been born to different mothers? But their mothers were not so different, having died and left their daughters behind. Neither woman died in childbed; both lived to nurse their girls and hold them and whisper to them of their future lives. But they did not live to see their daughters wed. The sweating sickness came when Hero was barely twelve and Iris thirteen and Leonato and Antonio lost their wives in a week. Hero and Iris became their fathers’ only heirs. There had been other children, children who did not so closely resemble the two living girls, but those had died as infants and their loss was marked now by verses chipped in stone and the old wine-heaviness around their fathers’ waists.

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