Ssssss

[The following story poem was something I worked quite hard on, and I thought it was actually good enough, different enough, to submit professionally.  It was a gimmick.  It is meant to  be read, almost sung out loud.  Not too fast.  There is a refrain–almost a spell of the words Sim Sham Shancinar!  These words are an invocation–of what I’m not sure.  The original typography has each line dropping down a line to form a kind of staircase or lightning bolt effect of words across the paper, but I can’t easily do that here on WordPress.  If anyone would like to have the original manuscript, let me know.  Better yet, if anyone would like to actually publish it in any kind of zine or book, be sure to let me know.]

Sim Sham Shancinar!

Stars shine silently.

(Sim)

Simple citizens snore.

(Sham)

Spears seek; shadows shelter Sar.

(Shancinar!)

Serpent satrap’s city,

(Sim)

Slimy sable citadel.

(Sham)

Sorcery simmers

(Shancinar!)

Shadow-shielded, Sar sneaks, stalking supreme sorcerer Sargon Silverfang.

Sullen, solemn, sable, silk-swathed snake-lord  sits, shrined.

(Sim)

Succubi sing sad siren songs.

(Sham)

“Silence!” shouts Sargon. “Seek soothing slumber!”

(Shancinar!)

Singers scatter.

Sargon sits solitary.

Standing sentry slumps.

(Sim)

Sanguined sword shows.

(Sham)

Sar slithers shrinewards.

(Shancinar!)

Suddenly, seven soldiers see Sar.

Shouts!

Sorcerous Sargon senses something sinister.

Spear shrieks, sword sings!

(Sim)

Sar slashes sidewise, sundering shoulder.

(Sham)

Slain soul screams skywards.

(Shancinar!)

Sim Sham Shancinar!

Sickening slaughter.

Serpent-swift, Sar slays Sargon’s soldiery.

Shields shatter!

Sar slips.

Seventh soldier’s scimitar strikes Sar’s scale-armor, slashing Sar slightly.

Sar’s stilletto stabs.

Sim Sham Shancinar!

Sim Sham Shancinar!

Sar sights Sargon.

(Sim)

Son sees sire.

(Sham)

Shocked sorcerer stares stupidly.

(Shancinar!)

Sinful Sar smiles serenely.

Sim Sham Shancinar!

Scintillating serpent sword slashes!

(Sim Sham!)

Sar shouts secret sorcerous syllables!

“Shancinar!  Sim Sham Shancinar!  Simcinar Shamcinar Shancinar!”

Sargon Silverfang, supernal, superior, supreme, sinister, sorcerous, serpitic satrap spews sour saliva.   Shrivels.

Soulless,

Shambling serpent-sire stumbles strickenly.

Sim Sham Shancinar!

Salutations, Sar, snake-skinned sorcerer slayer!

–St. Andre

__________________________________________________________________________________

It occurs to me that you might want to know what happened to this story.  I submitted it to the The Magazine of Fantasy and Science in 1974.  The postmark on the letter that brought it back i Nov. 28, 1974–that’s how I can date something I did so long ago.  The envelope included 2 copies of my manuscript and the following note on a small piece of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction stationary–the standard rejection note.  It says:

Thank you for showing us the enclosed manuscript.  We regret that it does not fit the present needs of the magazine.

Your submission has been read by one of our editors.  Unfortunately, the large number of manuscripts received does not permit us time for personal comment.

Sincerely,

The Editor

(all the above was typed.  What follows is written in cursive in a small, neat hand in blue ink)

Hank Davis

asst. editor

Sorry this is so late–it was mislaid when my apt. was burglarized in Sept. (OVER)

I do apologize for this–it’s a shameful way to treat a long time F & S F reader!

The story poem must be returned to you, unfortunately. It’s an interesting study in alliteration, but the constant “s” reiteration grows monotonous, even when not read aloud.  And the story line is old-hat sword and sorcery; nothing new, I’m afraid.

But thanks for thinking of us.

Best,

Hank Davis

———————————————————–

Imagine him at half this age when he rejected my story.

F & SF held my story so long that I actually thought it had a chance of being accepted.  The very things that Hank points out as weaknesses were what I thought were my strengths.  I had retold a classic swords and sorcery tale where every word begins with an “s” sound.  The rejection crushed me.  I never submitted anything to F & SF or any of the other SF magazines again.   The story went back into its envelope along with the rejection note, and there it has remained all these years.

However, the idea of Sar of the Serpents, and the name Shancinar stayed with me.  Shancinar became a forest name and the name of the capital city of the Elves on Trollworld.  Many years later, Sar became the Patron God of rogues and thieves, and he is still referred to as Sar of the Serpents.  It’s just a tiny note in the Chronology of Trollworld that I published a few years ago, but as you can see the idea endured, even if the saga sank like a stone.

If  you’ve ever been struck by a serpent, sacrificed to a sorcerer, or sung a song of sixpence, please leave a comment.

end

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8 Comments

  1. Charlie
    Posted March 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve always had an affinity for serpents and sorcery ever since I first saw Conan the Barbarian as a kid.

    I had a story about the end of the World that had won a flash fiction contest. Naturally, I submitted it to Asimov’s. A month later when it came, I was still tickled by the fact that I had received a professional rejection letter, well email.

    I’ve also had a story not only published in a magazine but a note saying they wanted to see more from me. The magazine folded the issue after the one my story appeared in.

  2. Posted March 24, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I, too, have a drawer full of rejection letters. Most from places of employment. Some things I think are wonderfully written, but they just don’t make it past the assigned editor of the day. I just let them sit and collect dust on my shelf. Why? They are not doing me any good there. Lately, I have been dusting them off and resubmitting. Some I re-edit. Others I thought were great, I now see were not. Still you’ve got to keep on pushing.

  3. grandpachet
    Posted March 24, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Shazbot! Surely slightly silly (somewhat surly) so – sans supercilliousness – some should see scintillating sophisticated stories, Senor. Si?

    *sigh*

    • grandpachet
      Posted March 24, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Argh!! Now I’m back on real computer (posted with phone earlier) and I see that the first post wasn’t rejected after all – even though it told me it was. Forgive the almost-exactly-alike double post, please? –*jeep! & God Bless! –Tzhett

  4. grandpachet
    Posted March 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Shazbot! Surely slightly sophisticated (somewhat silly?) so – sans supercilliousness – some should see scintillating sophisticated stories, Senor. Si?

    *sigh*

  5. Posted March 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Seems slightly silly. (-:

  6. Khaghhbboommm
    Posted March 24, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Lying low in lacklustre limelight
    Lovingly laid out in lonely leisure
    Lain listlessly, labours leaking
    Lower light, lesser lives
    Limits lightly, looming longer
    Librarian’s lovelore lost

  7. Mmarkham
    Posted March 26, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I always had an affinity for ‘L’ based alliteration for some reason. Part of a poem I wrote in university reads:

    Lost love looms
    Large like
    Lindsay Lohan’s
    Liquor lambasted
    Liver’s lethargic lobes

    and that was like four years ago…imagine how big her liver is now my simile keeps getting better and better. I guess this sort of thing is kind of repetitive, but my classmates liked it.

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