This week's stories are all adaptations and retellings of one kind or another. They all prove that knowing the story doesn't mean you know the story.
Andromache and the Dragon by Brittany Pladek | Ideomancer
The dragon stood on the shore.
"For every day, I will consume one of your desires," she told them. "You will not know which. You will not know whose. This is my tribute. Do you agree to its terms?"
"Then it is done." Hissing, the dragon arched her spines toward the sky, their nimbus peaks dissolving into vapor. Her foggy belly followed. Last she drew up her claws, their tips thinning to a sting of spray that whipped the villagers as it passed.
They shivered in the wind raised by her departure, numb hands longing for the fireplaces that lay behind them in the low houses of their fishing town. Andromache signaled that they should return home. The little group turned, heads hidden like sheep being driven up a mountain. It was suppertime, and they were all very hungry, except one.
What I love most about this story is Pladek's evocative prose and the various descriptions of the dragon. Though the title and names evoke the Greek myth, the story is more its own thing than a strict adaptation. It's more beautiful and moving than the myth, in the end.
Image: "The Dragon Who Kept Watch" by Cecile Walton
Cassandra by Ken Liu | Clarkesworld Magazine
You want to hear some dark, twisted origin story, some formative experience that explains how I've come to be me. That's what Showboat wants, too. "I feel sorry for her," he tells the cameras. "No one is born evil." I want to throw the remote at the TV every time he says that.
The real story is pretty mundane. It started with a search for cool air.
This "villain" origin story also has shades of Greek myth, but mixed in with superhero fiction, and is really well done, the voice in particular. Liu's character wrestles with the complex and complicated issues of pre-cognition, pre-destination, and fate.
The Gyre by Rebecca Schwarz | Luna Station Quarterly
She spent her days collecting the most unusual items as they drifted past. Her hair, dark as kelp, brushed against her powerful cetacean tail as she moved through the water. She carried the things she found in a little flock of plastic bags. Plastic was all around her in various states of degradation. Their original shapes transformed under the agitation of the waves into a confetti that caressed her with its tendrils as she passed, decorating her hair, sliding past her shoulders and breasts, her hips and tail.
She hung the bags off her elbows and moved through the crystalline sunlight. Adrift, they looked ephemeral, but inflated with seawater they felt heavy, solid. Her favorites were the ones with the big red letters. The words on the bags said:
This is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, but unless you've read the Hans Christian Anderson version you might not get why it ends up the way it does. It's true to the source material but also transcends it in interesting ways.