King of the Trees

Emily was King of the Trees. A little boy gave her the title – he was King of the Train.

She didn’t know the species names. She called her tree Paramine. It was the big one in the centre. She sat in its branches and surveyed her kingdom.

The other trees were short and thin. They were no more than twigs strapped to stakes with black rubber ties. She called them Paranagents. They weren’t impressive, but this was her domain. This was her realm.

Her trees bore no fruit so she ate burgers and chicken wings left as offerings by passing visitors. They respected her.

She looked for monkeys, but there were no monkeys. She told a half-remembered joke to those who passed beneath her tree. Something about a monkey being stapled to a dead monkey. Emily laughed as she told the joke, but always got lost in the words. She gave no punch-line, only a statement of fact.

She shouted at those who refused to pay tribute or pledge allegiance. A man from the council told her she was trespassing. She told him she was the King of the Trees.

She wore a dress made of leaves and fast food wrappers, and wove sticks and ladybirds through her hair. When she wasn’t performing her royal duties, she worked as a receptionist. Her boss smiled at her and her customers smiled at her. It was a tattoo shop, so people thought she was being alternative. She wasn’t being alternative – she was King of the Trees.

The day came when the man from the council returned – this time with police and a court order. They did not offer tribute or pledge fealty. They told her a complaint had been made.

She told them to bend the knee and to respect her kingdom. They did not respect her.

Emily shouted and spat as the police dragged her away by the armpits. She told them she was King of the Trees. She told them her brother was King of the Moon and her mother was King of the Bears. But they did not listen.

They told her she could never step foot in that car park again.

Emily vowed vengence. Emily declared war.

This text is copyright 2016 by Jon Cronshaw, released under a BY-NC-ND Creative Commons Licence.

Nnedi Okorafor – Binti (2015)

Nnedi Okorafor‘s novella Binti was first published by in 2015.

Binti tells the story of a sixteen-year-old who leaves her tribe to embark on a trip to a university in a different part of the galaxy.

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Binti (Binti, #1)Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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M. John Harrison – Tourism (2004)

M. John Harrison’s short story Tourism was first published in 2004. I read this in the Mammoth Book of New SF, Eighteenth Annual Edition, edited by Gardner Dozois.

Tourism is a bizarre space opera story which gives a brief glimpse into a bar on a far-off planet.

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Molly Gloss – Lambing Season (2002)

Molly Gloss‘s short story Lambing Season was first published by Asimov’s Magazine in July 2002. I read it in The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Twentieth Annual Collection, from 2003, edited by Gardner Dozois.

Lambing Season is a first contact story about a sheepherder who stumbles across the wreckage of an alience spacecraft.

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