Last in a monthly series of excerpts from The Book of All Cities.
Stin is the city for those who are tired of other cities, of villages, of houses, tents, roads, trees, anything at all. Those for whom the desert monasteries offer no retreat, the teeming megalopolises no distraction, the ethereal balloon cities no solace, come to Stin.
If, sleeping on a train, you wake with a start, and for a moment, you do not know who you are; you look into the window at your left, and against the racing black night you see your half-reflection looking back; you recognize the face, the dark staring eyes, but the fact that this is you seems like a joke, an absurd curse; you recall that you are going to die, your heart pounds, and you are desperate to cling to your flesh, but more desperate still not to forget the fear, not to lapse back into the placid dullness of taking existence for granted, and you fight to keep this sudden, strange terror alive -- if so, you might want to consider moving to Stin.
A glitter of blue; a geometric form too complex to understand, seen only for an instant; a stillness like the pause before some great and violent action; not death (which is no more interesting than dirt or mold), but the knowledge that you will die. . . . The travelers who truly yearn, who are dissatisfied with the blandishments of the fleshpots, the self-important outrage of the barricades, the easy answers of ashrams and the dullness of kibbutzim, come to Stin.
Now accepting applications for residency. Please fill out the enclosed card; someone will contact you.
Copyright © 2001 Benjamin Rosenbaum
Image © 2000 Lee Moyer.
Benjamin Rosenbaum lives in Basel, Switzerland, with his wife and baby daughter, where in addition to scribbling fiction and poetry, he programs in Java (well) and plays rugby (not very well). He attended the Clarion West Writers' Workshop in 2001 (the Sarong-Wearing Clarion). His work has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Vestal Review, Writer Online, and Quarterly West. His previous appearances in Strange Horizons can be found in our Archive. For more about him, see his Web site.