Colton is a trans man living in a climate-changed world. He plies the canals that used to be city streets, earning a living taking tourists on illicit journeys through San Francisco’s flooded edges beneath the imposing bulk of the Wall.
Tris is an elf who comes through the veil to the City by the Bay – the Caille – on a coming of age pilgrimage called the Cailleadhama. He is searching for his brother Laris, who went missing after crossing through the Caille years before.
The two men find they have common cause, and together they set off to find Laris in a world transformed by the twin forces of greed and climate change. And in the end, they find out more than they ever expected, both about the warming world and their own selves.
Guest Post By J. Scott Coatsworth
I’ve been writing professionally now for seven years – damn, where does the time go? And I’ve rarely gone out to scout a location for a story. The one exception to this? Cailleadhama, my san Francisco post-climate-change elf-meets-trans man urban fantasy sci-fi romance, Cailleadhama.
See, it’s set in the City by the Bay after a near-catastrophic sea-level rise. A wall now protects the inner parts of the City, while the outer margins are drowned like Venice.
The first part of the story is set in what’s now the Fisherman’s Wharf and South of Market (SOMA) districts, and I needed to see what 40 feet of water would look like there. So mark and I hopped in the car one day and drove down to San Francisco, parked and walked around to see how one might get around when that much of the city was underwater.
It turns out there are a number of ledges, balconies, and other pieces of construction that could be used to create a workable pathway – not without its dangers, of course, but that’s half the fun. I found a way for my main character, Colton, to navigate on foot almost all the way from his apartment to the Ferry Building where he meets the Pharmacist, an mysterious character who sets him off on his quest.
We walked down the waterfront, and I found a few details to add to the story, including Cupid’s Span – the bow and arrow sculpture along the old waterfront that is of particular interest to the bow and arrow wielding elf Tris when he sees it.
We also stopped by Oracle Park – the ballpark in China Basin, to ask a few questions for part of the story I had set there in the luxury suites atop the stadium.
It was a great trip, a wonderful way to spend a sunny afternoon together, and I hope it shows when you listen to the story!
Colton sat at the old, salvaged mirror in his wreck of an apartment, high above the Main Street Canal on San Francisco’s drowned waterfront. Not that San Francisco didn’t have its pride. As the Capital of Pacifica, she was still a center of commerce and politics.
But canal rats like Colton didn’t matter much anymore.
The bed behind him, salvaged from another abandoned apartment, was a mess of sheets, a reminder of the trick he’d brought home the night before, someone who’d been paid enough to overlook Colton’s shortcomings.
Colton took out a vial of testosterone—his last one, bought at a dear price from the Pharmacist. He pulled out a clean syringe and took off the plastic top, pulling out the stopper to 5 milliliters. He inserted the needle into the bottle, and pushed the air in, an act familiar to him from long practice. Then he pulled out the last of the drug, flicking the syringe twice and pushing out all the air bubbles.
He replaced the needle with a smaller gauge, dumping the larger one into an old caramel corn can he kept for his medical waste.
He used a piece of cotton and a bottle of cheap liquor to wipe down the injection site on his thigh, sterilizing it as best he could. Once it was dry, he took a deep breath, pinching his muscle and pulling his skin to the side. He inserted the needle into his leg, drawing the syringe back a bit to make sure there was no blood. He had to be careful to avoid injecting the hormone directly into his bloodstream.
It hurt a little, but he was used to it.
He dumped the used syringe and the empty vial into the can. He had friends who weren’t so careful to use clean needles, for their hormones or recreational drugs. Some of those friends were now dead, or worse.
Next, he took the medical bandages that he carefully washed every day, and wrapped them around his chest, binding his breasts tightly.
He didn’t look at them. He hated those reminders of his female body—he’d been running from that accident of birth for years.
He wrapped the bandages around himself three or four times, holding in his breath. Once he had his breasts secured, he adjusted them to the side to make his chest as flat as possible.
He looked at the results in the mirror. It would have to do.
He wished he could afford to be re-sequenced. To truly make his body match his gender, to not feel counterfeit in his own form.
Colton glanced out through the broken window. The lights of the City were starting to come on over there as dusk approached. He lived in a no man’s land, the part of the City where the water encroaching from the Bay had reached the old first and second floors. Toward the heart of the City, on the other side of the Wall, the rich still carried on as if nothing had changed.
Those with money called the drowned parts of the city the Canal District. It ran from the old Levis Plaza down to China Basin along the City’s Bay side. There were a number of tony restaurants on the roofs and higher floors of the City behind the Wall that offered views of this supposedly “romantic” neighborhood. For a fee, you could even take a ride through the ruins on a gondola.
That was Colton’s “day job”. It brought in enough money to afford food, hormones, and little else, at least, when he was able to pay Mason his overdue boat storage fees.
So at night, he haunted the drowned streets, looking for those he could help, or sometimes relieve of their excess cash.
Scott is giving away your choice of
$20 Amazon Gift Certificate
a signed first edition of the Liminal Sky: Ariadne Cycle Trilogy (USA only).
Scott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.
He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).