I’ve got a few ideas to blog about tonight and a bunch of comments from strangers on my copyright blogs. So we’ll see how much I get done.
I’ve mentioned Daniel Abraham in a couple of my fantasy lists. I’ve been slowly working my way through much of the long fiction he has had published. He has contributions to that latest Wild Cards series (quite nice), an inventive epic fantasy series (above average – The Long Price Quartet), an SF book written with co-authors (average – Hunter’s Run)) and an urban fantasy series written under the pseudonym M.L.N Hanover (pedestrian – Black Son’s Daughter).
But the work that made me start tracking down his work is a short story called the Cambist and the Iron Lord:A Fairy Tale of Economics. It was originally published in an anthology called Logorrhea where each author took an obscure word and built a story around it. This story is superlative!
A cambist is apparently an money exchanger or simply an expert in foreign currencies. The premise has a cambist encounter the Iron Lord for three challenges. The cambist is a fairly generic figure other than his occupation, but Abraham makes his rather pedantic life hum and his determination is excellent. The Iron Lord is just a miscellaneous noble from the city, but one known for his excess and wantonness.
All three challenges take the form of determining the worth of something. Each challenge escalates in importance and the price the cambist must pay personally to resolve it. It is also a fantasy story, but the fantastic elements only creep in slowly until they are the central aspect of the resolution of the final challenge.
Other than the premise I was also intrigued by the way Abraham seemed to capture the life of the cambist. It was not just what was written, but how. The tale is also quite dark – Abraham is part of a cachet of modern fantasy writers who is very interested in the consequences their characters make for the decisions they make. He has been mentored by George R.R. Martin who takes a similar interest although the styles are not truly the same.
Doing a google search reveals that the entire story is posted online. I recommend checking it out.