At Michael’s website, he talks a little about the origin of the story, and his own history as a writer, including his first fiction sale, “The Hand That Binds,” published in Black Gate 9.
My path to publishing fiction began in 2003. It was then that a friend (hi, Fred!) suggested I submit some of the stories I’d been kicking around. So I sent out two. One was a retelling of Beowulf that was quickly picked up by John O’Neill at the very awesome (and sorely missed) Black Gate magazine…
On one memorable outing we were able to travel to Acoma Pueblo during one of the traditional festivals. The chance to see Acoma in person, and to see it somewhat behind the scenes due to my mother’s access, was priceless. It was, for lack of a better term, a mystical experience. Strong as those teenage impressions had been, however, I knew I needed a bit more research to get [“At the End of Babel”] right. I needed language.
The entire tale… hinges on language and the power it has to define culture. More precisely said, it depends on the fact that this power has been turned into a way of attacking culture by denying people the right to speak their language. This was the point, but it wasn’t a very good one if I didn’t actually use the language of the pueblo.
I don’t know Keresan, but deep down in the bowels of the library at the University of Rochester I found a small and dust-covered grammar for it. I did my best to absorb the language, to feel it, and then to sprinkle it into my text, to make it real and make it right.
Read the complete story for free at Tor.com here. Art by Greg Ruth.
We last covered Tor.com with Niall Alexander’s salute to Solaris Books.