The Stringer

by Jeff Somers
Release date: August 2016
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: fantasyurban fantasy

Learn the Words. Get the blood. Rule the world. A stand-alone short story in the Ustari Cycle.

Most people never learn what a Stringer is — and their lives are better for it. Lem, however, gets to learn about them andpossession by alien intelligences the hard way. A must-read in the gritty supernatural series that includes We Are Not Good People from the "exhilarating, powerful, and entertaining" (Guardian) storyteller of the Avery Cates series.

For blood mages, the twenty-first century means hiding in the shadows, keeping society unaware of their incredible powers. The power-hungry sort plot quietly to manufacture tragedies bloody enough to give them the gas they need to cast something monumental. Lem and Mags, down-and-out bosom buddies to the end, try to be good, bleeding nobody but themselves, skating by on small Cantrips, cons, and charms.

So when the siren song of easy money comes their way in the form of helping out a friend, clearly no good will come of it. Blood mages are not good people. And neither are Stringers — alien intelligences that can take over a body and run it ragged. Stringers: they aren’t subtle, aren’t content to skulk in the shadows, and aren’t a houseguest anyone wants. Lem is about to learn what a possession hangover feels like — if Mags and his more tentative allies can figure out how to stop the demon without killing him.

(updated 2018-06-07)

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