Fire and Flesh by Michael R. Fletcher is a short story set in the same world as his fantasy debut novel Beyond Redemption (Harper Voyager) and the forthcoming sequel The Mirror’s Truth (Independent). As the story shares this world, it is important to understand that it shares the magic system’s premise that beliefs define reality. The more compelling an individual’s delusions become, the more madness consumes them.
The story begins aboard a vessel at sea from the perspective of Gehirn Schlechtes, the former executioner of King Furimmer. Gehirn is a close friend of the ship’s captain, Pizarr, but is ordered by the King to kill his friend on the journey. He is hesitant to carry out this sentence. Captain Pizarr himself is quite literally rotting away, each day he peels and tosses pieces of himself into the sea. To worsen things, the ship’s counselor got thrown overboard, and the morale of the crew is dangerously low. Talk of mutiny abounds.
A lot is going on in the limited pages of this short story. On the surface, it appeared to be simply the story of an internal struggle between Gehirn and the Captain. Then the plot thickened by the lowered morale of the crew and the second danger this posed to the captain. But in actuality, these are not all of the plot strings, and I was pleased by the depth the story achieved in such a limited space. Although the captain and crew’s mission is withheld from us for a little longer than what I felt was necessary, the story was well executed. The various plot lines are well balanced, and the ending was satisfactory and left nothing open for interpretation.
Fletcher flexes his talent with words to create vivid and sometimes disgusting images that created a compelling picture throughout. He has developed his skill as an author and writes some of the darkest fiction I’ve encountered while still making his world feel believable. If you have not yet given Michael R. Fletcher’s writing a try, this short story will provide you with a solid example of why his Manifest Delusions world is so highly regarded in dark fantasy circles.
About the Author: Michael R. Fletcher is a science fiction and fantasy author. His novel, BEYOND REDEMPTION, a work of dark fantasy and rampant delusion, was published by HARPER Voyager on June 16th, 2015.
THE MIRROR’S TRUTH, the sequel to BEYOND REDEMPTION, will be released December 15th, 2016.
SWARM AND STEEL is being published by Talos Press and is slated for release in August 2017.