Okay, it actually came out at the tail end of last week, but my first-ever Escape Pod story, “The Princess (NP),” is live and available for your reading or listening pleasure!
This was an interesting story for me. In sharp contrast to “The En Croute Job,” my other September story, the humor here is scarce and subtle. I’m not sure, to be honest, that I’ve gone much darker.
I don’t usually do fairy tales, and I hadn’t been planning on taking a shot at the topic (despite an open call for fairy tales) — there are a lot of fantastic writers out there who mine this theme. I didn’t think I could reasonably participate.
But I was guilted into trying, and I love a challenge.
The title came to mind first, because I’m the sort of person who thinks in puns. (If that’s not something that appears in my published work, most of the time, you’re welcome.) Then I just had to figure out what a “math princess” might be like, and what “data sensitivity” might mean in the context of outer space. Given how sparse the original fairy tale is, I pretty much had leeway to do whatever I wanted; I just needed to move myself as far away from Once Upon a Mattress as possible.
In that, at least, mission accomplished.
Mur Lafferty’s commentary, at the end of the episode, boiled the story down to “too much data and not enough empathy in the world.” There’s a lot of white noise out in the world; finding truth, let alone meaning, is no easy feat for we mere humans. I don’t know that this story offers any morals or lessons in the fairy tale mold, save perhaps that searching for your own truth can take time and a lot of mental energy. And the world isn’t always receptive to that decision. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep searching.
The universe of this story is open-ended enough that I may come back again someday. Not in the sense of a sequel — the universe is vast, there has to be more than three characters in it. I’m not angling myself at any dystopian narratives at the moment, of course, but plans do change. And I do love a challenge.
Barring surprises, this is my final fiction pub of 2022. I hope you’ve enjoyed the stories this year — I know I’ve enjoyed writing them. So until 2023*, be well, be safe, and see you soon.
*Or sooner, if you’re a poetry fan.