What do nine-year-olds dream of? Well, if you’re Trina Finster…
[Book Excerpt from The Mercy of the Tide by Keith Rosson. Available February 2017]
RIPTIDE, OREGON, 1983
Trina learned to fear the bomb two weeks after her mother died, and she fell into that fear like someone slipping into bed after a hard day’s work. Fell into it with a relief that bordered on gratitude. When she thought of the bomb, she felt like someone who was gravely ill witnessing a terrible and violent event: a merciless distraction, but at least one outside of her own body.
When thoughts of her mother came now, thoughts that made her ache and curl up in bed like a plant without sunlight, she read The Looming Error. She read about Mutual Assured Destruction—M.A.D.—and at night those three letters ran the plainsong of their zippered teeth along her heart as she stared at the ceiling wishing for sleep. It was a lullaby that made her heart fearful and clumsy, those three letters, that idea, but—and this was the important part—it took up too much room to worry about anything else. To feel sad for herself. To miss her mom. The world, Trina knew, was doomed, and it was terrible, but there was some part of her that felt glad that at least this part of it would be over. The world wouldn’t survive, and there was something freeing about that, like finally throwing up after you’ve felt sick for a long, long time.
Those three letters, M.A.D., and how they spelled the end of everything. The book lay under her bed and sometimes it felt like she slept above a bomb for all the power it had.
The thing she hated most about the Soviets and the United States both was their babyishness. How much they seemed like grumpy, spoiled kids playing with toys they didn’t want to give up. There was a lot about the negotiations in the book, and she could picture it all too well, the two countries discussing things in a big room somewhere, everyone with their own glass of water by their hands, old white men in suits trying to work out trades in practically the same way that she and Sam had bartered the gross parts of their school lunches when she was a baby back in first grade:
United States: We want you to reduce the number of your SS-20 missile launchers in Europe, okay? You have 243 of them and we want you to only have 75.
Russia: Hmm. Okay. If you also only have 75 launchers for your Tomahawk cruise missiles there as well.
United States: Fine by us.
Russia: Ha! Except we both know that your Tomahawks carry four warheads compared to the one warhead of the SS-20, so you would have like 300 warheads to our 75! Cheater!
Trina knew they did not actually talk like this, but still. Practically.
It went on and on. And this, she knew, was just one type of nuclear missile, when both sides had so many different kinds, thousands of missiles of all different kinds, and all of them capable of doing their little part for M.A.D. One Tomahawk, The Looming Error said, carried a nuclear yield up to ten times the one at Hiroshima! And still they argued about it like little babies over their toys. Their tens of thousands of toys.
ICBMs. NCBMs. SLBMs. IRBMs.
B-1s. MXs. Poseidons.
These characters at night became like glyphs to her, these names a hidden language that battled the shadows skirting her wall, battled the shapes of the trees outside her window, the yawning realization that her mother was never, ever coming back, that Trina would never see her again, that she was dead in the ground right now even—
Trident IIs. Pershing IIs. Tomahawks.
Soviet SS-4s. SS-5s. SS-18s. SS-19s. SS-20s.
She read them in the book and repeated them; it was a cadence that had become familiar, intimate. The Looming Error was overdue but she couldn’t imagine turning it back in to the library. She carried it in her backpack to school; she could practically feel it under the bed at night, whispering like a bad friend.
End of excerpt
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2021 Releases from Meerkat Press
We are super excited to share our 2021 book schedule! We’ve got such a great lineup ranging from a prose-poetry speculative collection by Eugen Bacon and Dominique Hecq, a literary-leaning speculative fiction collection by Keith Rosson, a dark fantasy novel by J.S. Breukelaar, the next entry in Seb Doubinsky’s addictive City-States Cycle, a dark fantasy/horror novella by J. Ashley-Smith, and the final book in G.D. Penman’s Witch of Empire LGBT urban fantasy series.
We’ll be sharing more on each of these in the months to come and encourage you to check them out and preorder your copy today!
★ Publishers Weekly Starred Review for Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons
Publishers Weekly weighs in on Keith Rosson’s debut story collection, Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons, with a wonderful starred review! The collection releases in February 2021 but is available now for preorder.
With this excellent collection of 15 jagged, fragmented pieces, dark fantasist Rosson subverts expectations and challenges his characters and his readers alike to second-guess their preconceptions. Evil is just as likely to spring from daily life as to lunge out of the supernatural in these disquieting tales.Publishers weekly (★ review)
With Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons, award-winning author Keith Rosson delves into notions of family, grief, identity, indebtedness, loss, and hope, with the surefooted merging of literary fiction and magical realism he’s explored in previous novels. In “Dunsmuir,” a newly sober husband buys a hearse to help his wife spread her sister’s ashes, while “The Lesser Horsemen” illustrates what happens when God instructs the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to go on a team-building cruise as a way of boosting their frayed morale. In “Brad Benske and the Hand of Light,” an estranged husband seeks his wife’s whereabouts through a fortuneteller after she absconds with a cult, and in “High Tide,” a grieving man ruminates on his brother’s life as a monster terrorizes their coastal town. With grace, imagination, and a brazen gallows humor, Folk Songs for Trauma Surgeons merges the fantastic and the everyday, and includes a number of Rosson’s unpublished stories, as well as award-winning favorites.More info →
Aurealis Magazine Reviews ROAD SEVEN by Keith Rosson
Aurealis Magazine reviewed Keith Rosson’s new novel, ROAD SEVEN and we loved what they had to say. Be sure to check out the full review in the magazine!
Keith Rosson brings a magnificence to the literary weird, casting a new lens to crossgenre speculative fiction loaded with crime and sabotage, etched with secrecy and horror.AUREALIS MAGAZINE, ISSUE #133
Why do some people hate fantasy and science fiction with a vengeance while others adore it? Is it simply a ‘pineapple on pizza’ thing? A matter of taste? Or is there something more profound at work? I suspect it comes down to a concept that gets thrown around in all sorts of contexts: the suspension of disbelief.
Road Seven follows disgraced cryptozoologist Mark Sandoval—resolutely arrogant, covered head to foot in precise geometric scarring, and still marginally famous after Hollywood made an Oscar-winner based off his memoir years before—who has been strongly advised by his lawyer to leave the country following a drunken and potentially fatal hit and run. When a woman sends Sandoval grainy footage of what appears to be a unicorn, he quickly hires an assistant and the two head off to the woman's farm in Hvíldarland, a tiny, remote island off the coast of Iceland. When they arrive on the island and discover that both a military base and the surrounding álagablettur, the nearby woods, are teeming with strangeness and secrets, they begin to realize that a supposed unicorn sighting is the least of their worries. Road Seven will mark the third of Rosson’s novels to be published by Meerkat Press.More info →
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