Some months ago, Blaze Ward invited me to submit a story for the 3rd Blaze Ward Presents anthology. The theme: Nuns with Guns. The parameters: must contain at least one nun, who must possess a gun. Word count range: 6 to 20,000. Any genre.
Seemed like a great opportunity (nudge/kick in the pants) to get back to my long-neglected spec fic universe by telling a Trencadis tale. These stories begin in 1850, on the island of Majorca (aka Mallorca, largest of the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain).
In my very alternate history, Majorca serves as the political hub of the Confederacion Mediterraneano. The countries making up this political alliance have been carrying out an experiment in egalitarianism for nearly two hundred years, producing starkly different outcomes from the brutal imperialism of our real-world timeline. It’s a questionably utopian, unquestionably genderqueer society with different ideas about what technological ‘progress’ looks like (hint: not the Industrial Revolution).
So what kinds of nuns would live on this never-was Majorca? And what would compel them to handle guns? Well, there are game to hunt and also Catholic hermitages on the island still today. But in my alt-history, an alliance with the Malagasy (folks from Madagascar, bigger island off the east coast of Africa) is more politically crucial, existing largely to push back the continuing imperialism of Britain and others. Central character Coreopsis Fairholm-Mendoza grew up on Majorca, training with the Malagasy nuns to truth-read (think human polygraph). If those nuns took up arms, how would Core’s skills help them?
Smithereens: the Unvarnished Truth of the Pollensa Blockade follows in the grand tradition of the epistolary novel. An emotionally bruised and physically battered Core writes home to Salix Fairholm, one of thon’s parents, relaying the extraordinary events of one day in the life of a Navy cadet. Is there really an evil-avenging kraken in the Mediterranean? Add if so, why did it chase a tiny Malagasy trader into Pollensa Bay?
On this first official assignment, Core learns surprising truths, giving us a glimpse into the contrasts of worldview between the British, the Malagasy, and the Confederacion. Core also poses Salix some hard questions about thon’s own origins (to be addressed in later adventures).
Eventually, Smithereens with find a place in a Trencadis Trunk (picture an old steamer trunk full of letters, journals, maps, poems, playbills, etc curated into a collection with clear narrative through line). For now, you can find your first taste of the Trendcadis universe in good company with 18 other action-packed tales in Nuns with Guns.