The Scorpion and the Syrinx

September opens on a mighty fine note: my novelette “The Scorpion and the Syrinx” is the headlining story in the September/October issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction! Welcome to an alternate history in which Roman expansion reached the Americas, alongside magic, monsters, and competing motivations. TangentOnline posted a glowing review, saying: “Fans of alternate history will love the cultural mashups supported by the novel setting… Trent concludes ‘The Scorpion and the Syrinx’ with a delightful climactic disaster”. There’s also a nice review at SFRevu, which concludes by saying “Great story and Decimus and Selene are great characters. I hope we see them again.”

This is the start of a new series outside of my War Hero stories. Where that franchise allows me to play in hard sci-fi space, my new Nova Roma series indulges my other passion: history. Alternate history, to be specific. This has been my secret pandemic project, the (partial) reason behind my trip to Greece, and the most fun I’ve had writing in a long while.

But back to “The Scorpion and the Syrinx”, I must admit this is a special delight to share with readers. This marks my eighth sale to the magazine, my first to editor Sheree Renee Thomas, and is an edition I share with some truly wonderful and talented people including fellow Poe fan Linda D Addison, who I had the chance to connect with and whose poetic contributions in this issue are fiendishly clever homages to EAP.

There are more Nova Roma stories to come.

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On a totally unrelated note, my town has finally implemented sidewalks (given how long this simple convenience took you’d think it was the provincial equivalent of building the Colossus of Rhodes.) I’ve written previously about how spending time outdoors is an essential part of my self-care, and so it is now possible for me to walk to my preferred nature trails rather than drive. This also makes a walking tour of my neighbors’ lawns.

I will never understand the homeowner fetish for having the perfect lawn.

We’re not cultivating grass for animal feed. We can’t eat it ourselves. It isn’t allowed to produce flowers for bees. We’re not keeping it void of forest to prevent marauders from sneaking up to our castles. It isn’t being used to grow vegetables and herbs. We’re not playing 18 holes on it. We’re not shearing it away to keep our tribe safe from predatory lions. Rather, the American lawn is a green square of neurotically Euclidean precision that people obsessively feed water and chemicals.

I don’t accept that it’s done to have a little bit of nature nearby (the suburban equivalent of the Japanese shinrin-yoku) because the “perfect lawn” resembles the synthetic uniformity of Astroturf. What am I missing? Why isn’t that space used for gardens?

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