I have a series of shorts here that have some things in common. The most salient thing they have in common is some uncommon people. These are the stories of Boem, the forested city of my own fictional world, where trees speak to people and people speak to robots. I would hope that the stories would speak for themselves, but I also hope that talking about them a litttle here might catch some people's eyes and lure them to read my little stories.
Boem is a fictional city, a little bit like Prague but not a lot, in a fictional region a little bit like Central Europe but not a lot. Like Prague, it wears its ancient heritage on its sleeve. And like Prague, it has mysterious doorways in its eccentric buildings. And like Prague, the forest grows right through the city, and the public parks are dotted with signs similar to "Pamaty Strom - Significant Tree." But Boem is not a stand-in for Prague, and you cannot use the streets in these stories to find your way around the real city. None of the places, and none of the people, are real places or people from Prague.
Some of the people you will see on the streets and among the trees of Boem are nothing like people we can see in our world. Here are some of them:
In Boem, you might meet a Zelnik - this is a person who has green markings in their skin, usually concentrated on their back and belly. There ios s cientific understanding of the green markings. They appear to be made up of skin cells which contain captured plant cells within them, which produce chlorphyll and other pigments. They are passed in the womb from mother to infant. You can only be a Zelnik if your mother was one too, though the father does seem to pass on somegenes that affect the growth of the markings. The mystery is that most Zelniks sport what look like very fine representational images among their green marking, sometimes showing incredible detail. And some Zelniks' markings change over time in ways that the Zelniks are sure reflect changes in their own condition or relationships to the world.
Other than a slight energy advantage when they are exposed to enough sunlight, it's unknown what these markings do for the Zelniks, or whether they have any other characterisics that are special. Some people say they do. You can find this kind of tree person in "The Greenest Boy In Town," "A Day of Porn," "Stromnik," and "Striking."
You are less likely to know it if you meet a Stromnik (check out the story of that name, as well as "Striking"). A Stromnik appears to be a normal person, but they have a special ability that limits their expectatiosn in life. Usually sometime in adulthood or middle age, a Stromnik will start sensing communications from plants. At first this is nothing more than vague indications of state. Over time, the communications get clearer and more specific, and the Stromnik finds themself drawn into the affairs of the plants around them. And finally, sometime in middle age or early elderhood, the Stromnik is claimed by a substantial tree, to whom they are bound the rest of their (considerably lengthened) life, becoming the tree's spokesperson and advocate. In this way they are something like a dryad from our world's mythology and something like a sea anemone from our world's biology. Many Stromniks find they cannot leave the immediate vicinity of the tree to which they are bound. Others are sent on forays and journeys to gather information for or to carry out the will of their trees.
The story "Picnic Day Night" features a different kind of tree person. Both the protagonist and the person he meets in a graveyard are homunculi crafted by magicians from willow shoots. They were made to be used as the instruments and victims of crime, but they have transcended their making and - I suppose it is a kind of spoiler to finish that sentence. It is not a spoiler to say it is one of these fellows who talks to robots.
I hope that this little teaser inspires you to check out my profile and read these stories. There will be more coming, and when that happens, I'll revise this to reflect the additions. As always, I'd love to hear from you about how these stories sit with you.