Friday, January 30, 2009

My other city, Quall

I liked the "Other Cities" stories by Benjamin Rosenbaum so much that I had to write one of my own. Here it is. If you get any kind of kick out of it at all, check out the inspiration over on Strange Horizons, where they published 12 of these. There's also a book full of them that you can buy.

The Streets of Quall

The city of Quall was famous the world over for the beauty of its towers, whose crystalline heights were supported by bases of slate, and ringed with shops whose exotic wares countered the stark modernity of the soaring spires.

To look at Quall from a distance was to gaze on mathematical perfection; to see it from street level was to witness the chaos of the bazaar; and in the middle distance the two harmonized as endless activity on a serene backdrop.

The city was the most popular tourist destination in the world before the end, when some began to notice that those who returned from Quall had changed. Eyes bright, they told story after story of the wonders they had seen in Quall, but could hardly remember the details of their own lives. They lit up metal detectors like junkpiles.

We have only the city's word for what goes on there today. The trench around it is a hundred feet deep, scored and maintained by orbital lasers funded by a dozen nations who pay the bills every quarter without complaint.

The city still broadcasts the ads that made it famous, on every frequency, in every language known to man and machine. They form all we know today of the mystery that was Quall.

This post is licensed under a Creative Commons (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0) license. Rosenbaum is running a contest for derivative works, so I'm entering it!


  1. I'm very flattered!

    You know, since the Other Cities are all in my collection The Ant King and Other Stories, you can go enter this in my derivative works contest, by posting a link with a comment to



  2. I was going to comment on this vignette, but following on the heels of a compliment by
    the guy you were paying homage to, it would be like spitting into the wind.

    Well, here goes anyway. Nice imagery, good creepy atmosphere underlying it. (Ptooey!)

  3. Love the second paragraph especially!