6/30/05: Allen keys, the History Mouse, and Year’s Best Fantasy

I’m in Santa Clara for the annual gay square dance convention. On the way here I had to have part of my baggage hand-searched because the X-ray showed… an allen wrench. But when it turned out to be the little key to reset the combination on a combination lock, they let me keep it. “So,” says Kate, “it would have been a problem if it were hexagonal, but it’s okay because it’s round?” Do you feel safer? The convention doesn’t start until tomorrow, so today we went to the Winchester Mystery House (or, as I always call it, the Winchester History Mouse). I hadn’t expected it to be so intimately surrounded by the same boring malls and office parks that make up the rest of Santa Clara (plus the cool triple-dome movie theatre next door). I was also surprised at the mix of completed, under-construction, and fallen down in disrepair… many perfectly complete rooms adjoined hallways with bare lath and no plaster, and vice versa, while one entire group of 30 rooms was boarded up and never repaired after the 1906 earthquake. A natural consequence, I should have realized, of the building’s history of continuous renovation. Another surprise was that Sarah Winchester left no journal or other indication of why she built and built as she did, so the well-known statement that it was to appease, or distract, the ghosts of those slain by the Winchester rifle is only a theory. Maybe it was just a hobby (some people build model trains, some tie flies… Sarah Winchester had a lot of money). In writing news, Year’s Best Fantasy #5, edited by David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer and including my story “Charlie the Purple Giraffe Was Acting Strangely,” is now available at your local independent bookstore, Powell’s, amazon.com, and bn.com. Enjoy!

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