Category Archives: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

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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