Usually posts appear on this blog according to a strict schedule — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — but that has not been possible recently because of the demands of reality. I have had to set new priorities, and I decided that writing the novella The Forest is at the top of the list (though of course below such mundane matters as earning a salary; the last time when I could support myself solely by writing games and fiction was in April 1989).
The Forest is a preliminary title for a story in the Patchwork World collection of retro-sf adventures on an alternate human homeworld. It takes place soon after the events of “The Road” and starts somewhere in the Oceanic Archipelago. The protagonist is Rauf Laudi, a middle-aged scholar that belongs to the Forsaken, a minority people that often suffers discrimination or persecution. His checkered past puts him in harm’s way because a government agency compels him to voyage to the distant Rim and investigate the truth behind strange rumors originating in a vast taiga.
The tall man approaching the entry to our college caught my attention because he did not fit in among the students moving among the university buildings. I was in the senior common room, working on an article for the Journal of the Pre-industrial Past, and my gaze had strayed to the park beyond the tall windows. The stranger walked with a straight-backed military poise and his face moved right and left like a detective surveying the surroundings. His bespoke suit would be appropriate at the College of Commerce, but not here at the College of the Past.
“A predator in disguise”, I mused and returned to my text.