Curse of the Coral Bride

by Brian Stableford
Release date: 2004
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: science fiction, fantasy

The Curse of the Coral Bride is a far-futuristic fantasy in the tradition of Clark Ashton Smith's tales of Zothique and Jack Vance's accounts of the Dying Earth. Billions of years in the future, the Earth has been repositioned around the red giant that the sun has become; earlier races having emigrated to the stars, its last inhabitants are physically similar to the humans who first achieved self-consciousness and primitive civilization, but the heavens and other aspects of their experience have been rearranged in order to make certain kinds of divination possible – to the extent that any divination is logically possible. Alas, that divination has revealed that the world is now no more than a generation away from its ultimate end, and the instrumentality of its demise is already manifest in such devastations as the Silver Death.

Fleeing the Silver Death, the diviner Giriaizal ends up in a tiny island kingdom in which a young fisherman has been abruptly propelled to the throne for political reasons. Girzaizal becomes the young king's vizier and wise adviser – but the king has already been entranced by the sinister coral from which he forges an artificial bride after his human bride-to-be is slain by magic, and from that moment on, the patient hand of fate manoeuvres both of them, and all their companions, towards a suitably ironic doom... which is, after all, what the hand of fate is bound to do, in a world designed to die in an aesthetically appropriate manner.

(updated 2010-09-07)

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