Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Diana Comet and Other Improbable Stories - A GLBTQ Short Story Collection

by Sandra McDonald

Published in 2010 by Lethe Press

Frosted with humor and magic, these whimsical short stories are a real treat. Set in and around the fictitious land of Massasoit, Diana Comet takes the reader on a journey filled with Tinkerbobs (the fairy mascot of Fire station 13 if you didn’t already know), sailing nuns, and one strong willed, beautiful, and independent transsexual. Coupled with humorous and thought-provoking author’s notes and woven together seamlessly through these characters, these stories take you deep into the fictitious world and leave you wanting more.

The introduction of this collection centers on two men aboard a ship. One of them feels he is destined to save all of the many “dangerous” books that will be thrown away in the world and must stay on the ship when his friend leaves. The captain of the ship, a nun (yes, really - black habit and all) assures the distraught man that the book-saver will lead an important life saving ‘dangerous’ books — and then goes to drink.

“Graybeard and the Sea”
Graybeard, a head of a pirate from an attraction on the boardwalk of Revere beach, longs for one thing: the taste of ocean water. When a seagull tells him its tastes of dead fish and sewage, Graybeard is still not deterred. He befriends a young boy named Cubby, an orphan whose one dream is to go to the city of Massasoit where there are people like him. With the arrival of the dreaded cigar-chomping boss of the theme park, Cubby flees but not before giving Greybeard what he has been lusting after all those years.

“Diana Comet and the Disappearing Lover”
Hailing from New Dali, Diana Comet is beautiful, wealthy, fiercely independent and in search of her lost fiancée James Hartvern in the industrious city of Massasoit. But Diana is not like all of the other ladies of the aristocracy; under her beautiful gowns, Diana conceals her ‘dirty parts’. Upon arriving in Massasoit Diana finds two young Cornish girls (the Cornish people are discriminated against in the city) who need a place to stay. She takes them with her to Prince Harami’s embassy, where she is allowed to reside in exchange for a badge from the Massasoit Fire Department. Dressed as a boy (a necessary evil according to Diana) she sets out to find her lost love and soon discovers that the rumors might not be true and true love is real after all.

“Pieter and the Sea Witch”
In order to support his wife and kids Pieter joins the army and travels from Massasoit to Fort Destruction, a small isolated island. There, the idiotic Runney and Sergeant Tayborn warn him of the ghost of Mrs. Santolv, a wife of one of the army captains who surprised her husband on Deadwinter only to find him in bed with another man. Every Deadwinter’s eve the scorned woman comes to get the married men. Of course, Deadwinter’s eve just so happens to be that night and when a tragic event happens, only Pieter knows the truth.

“In the Land of Massasoit”
Cubby, fresh from the land of Cardyr, hops a train to Massasoit. Lost in the city with no where to go he is told by a statue of a horse (which then turned into a real horse after Cubby fed it grass…obviously) and a squirrel to go to the Hartvern House where Diana Comet would take care of him. There, Cubby meets Miss Fay, Diana’s predecessor who offers him a place to stay.

“Fay and the Goddesses"
An eight-year-old Fay is torn between two worlds and two goddesses. Her father and Uncle in the city want her to worship the Stern Loving Mother while her Grammy in the country tries to convince her she belongs to the Water Mama. Fay encounters a graying Diana Comet while in the city but it is when she returns to her Grammy that she takes her life into her own hands.

“Diana Comet and the Lovesick Cowboy”
Just as Landan, a drunken cowboy pining after his lost love Isaac, is about to shoot up the saloon down the street, he gets a visit from the one and only Diana Comet. She prepositions the former army captain with a job escorting her to find one of the children from the Hartvern House who she has lost contact with. The two discover that Kevin has gone to follow the famed poet Whitney Waltman on his last tour. In their quest to find Kevin, they discover each other’s secrets and the incredible Miss Comet helps Landan find happiness that does not come from a bottle.

“What You Wish For”
As a hurricane comes roaring to the boardwalk, the miserable Graybeard finally gets what he has always wanted.

“The Goddess and Lieutenant”
Following in her war-hero mother’s footsteps, Lieutenant Teague is sent to Ravina for her first tour of duty. This army isn’t just any normal army: it is composed entirely of women and any inter-soldier relationships are strictly prohibited. Teague starts off on the wrong foot with Seargent Lyss but as time goes on those feelings start to change and with visits from the Goddess, Teague rethinks her life and starts to have forbidden thoughts.

“The Firemen’s Fairy”
After graduating from the Massasoit Firefighters academy, Steven gets placed at Fire Station 13 whose supernatural mascot is Tinkerbob, a 3 inch tall rainbow-winged flamboyant fairy. Uncomfortable with Tinkerbob's affections and whistling, Steven takes out his anger on the poor fairy. But it is not until Steven is in trouble that he realizes what a great friend Tinkerbob is.

“Nets of Silver and Gold”
Cubby, now a smart and dashing University student with an affinity for firemen, goes off to find his long lost friend Graybeard. After talking to a carousel horse he finds out that Graybeard is lost in the ocean. With the help of a ship commanded by nuns, Cubby launches a rescue mission to find that pirate head.

“The Instrument”
In a war-torn land, in an airport hangar lays a corpse called the Instrument. One day it awakens and delivers a prophecy, yet the Commander of the army will not listen.

“Diana Comet and the Collapsible Orchestra”
Diana Comet is suffering from both the loss of her husband and soulmate James and the wrinkles and fat of old age when she finds a magical box that holds the entire Alton Glenn orchestra, who were believed to be dead years ago. When Lady Moncrief extends an invitation for Diana to join her in New Dali, Diana and her assistant Hazel reluctantly accept. There, Hazel has a love affair with an unknown person and Diana discovers a deep dark secret about the Moncrief children.

“Women of the Lace”
While deserted on an island, a grandmother shares with her granddaughter the secret to women’s power for centuries: the magic art of lace making. However there was one woman who ruined it for all: Martha Bellingham who against every rule taught the art of lace making to men so that her wooden-toothed husband could win his war. After many years, the two are saved and you will never guess just who is on that boat…

--Posted by Hannah

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