Friday, March 17, 2017

A Drink of Deadly Wine

This is the tenth story in the Treasures of Albion series that Michael Spence and I write together, and it originally appeared in Sword and Sorceress 28. The inspiration for this story was a combination of two things: (1) Psalm 60, verse 3 "Thou hast showed thy people heavy things; * thou hast given us a drink of deadly wine"; and (2) a museum exhibit.

The exhibit was called China's Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor's Legacy, and it was on display in San Francisco in 2013. I volunteer at the Asian Art Museum, and I nearly had heart failure when I walked past a newspaper vending machine a month before the exhibit was due to open and saw a headline about a "lost" terracotta warrior. China may have thousands of them, but each one is unique, and I don't think the Chinese government would take it well if we misplaced one. I grabbed the paper and read the start of the article: "On January 23, 2013, a terracotta figure became separated from his cohorts as they were en route from China to San Francisco." At that point I relaxed, because I knew that Michael had just seen them at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, where they had been until January 27, 2013. It was therefore impossible that any of them had been lost between China and San Francisco on the 23rd. It turned out that the "Lost Warrior" was a publicity campaign for the exhibit.

But the idea of a terracotta warrior (or warriors) wandering around a city did give Michael and me a plot thread for the story. It's the second of our Treasures of Albion stories to come from a museum exhibit we both saw; the first was "Daughter of Heaven."