A fairy tale about loyalty, a quest, surprise, and triumph
September 22, 2020 10:11 AM   Subscribe

"Once upon a time, in a very small kingdom, there was a king with one daughter. His wife had died, and he had not remarried. This is not the fairy tale where the king decides to marry his own daughter, don’t worry. This king was a completely different sort of terrible father: he believed that his daughter should earn his love, and nothing she did was ever good enough." Naomi Kritzer's short fantasy story "A Star Without Shine" is part of the fundraiser The New Decameron. posted by brainwane (8 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I love Naomi Kritzer.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:18 AM on September 22, 2020

More Steerswoman! So excited that Book 6 is a go!
posted by Anonymous Function at 10:25 AM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

OMG more Steerswoman! ::flails like Kermit::
posted by suelac at 11:24 AM on September 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Once upon a time there was a daughter with one king. All her other kings had died, leaving her alone with the one terrible king. This is not the fairy tale where the king reforms himself. No one does that. Nor is it the fairy tale where he gets killed by weapons. Even though we'd all like to see it. The king was terrible at everything. He was terrible at shoes. He was terrible at sandwiches and doors. He was not so good at pole-vaulting sometimes but the rest of the time he was terrible at that too. Worst of all he was terrible to the daughter. He did this by being a bad role model. In time the daughter could feel herself becoming terrible herself. One afternoon she could only pole vault six inches and became frightened. She decided to leave before it was too late.
It was a cold night but she made her way through the dark forest in search of a way to become wonderful and not terrible. She was hungry since she had only had a chocolate pizza to eat the entire day. She sat down miserable and dejected. Her toes were cold. A noise startled her and she looked up to see a panda bear. Her heart softened, she beckoned and the panda came close to her and put his head on her lap. It felt warm and fuzzy. "Oh," she said "this is what it means to feel wonderful." The panda raised his head and said: "Das ist eine dumme Sache zu sagen". "Wow," she said "you talk! But I don't understand what you're saying!" The panda made an impatient gesture. "tu penses que ton père est une personne terrible". "I'm just hearing a bunch of nonsense gobble noises," she replied. "Can you do English?"
"nid wyf yn mynd i pander!" shouted the bear. "¿Crees que puedes alcanzar la sabiduría sin trabajar por ella?" he added. But the panda did not leave, and when she got up, the panda padded softly behind her on his cute little feet.
So it was that together they travelled through forest and jungle. They stumbled across glaciers and scaled escarpments. They rolled down hillsides like wheels of cheese. And in time the daughter came to understand the panda's speech. When at last she had grasped the twenty languages and dialects plus Cockney she knew it was time to return home. Her king had aged terribly in her absence but nevertheless greeted her as best he could, tears aflow. "I am sorry that I was a terrible father," he said. "I am not good at anything, but I had to show you whatever I knew even though it was not much of anything". The daughter nodded and embraced her terrible king. "It's ok," said the daughter, "I know you tried your very best." "I love you " said the king. "I do too, said the daughter". The panda shuffled forward and said with a kindly smile: "Alla fine il meglio che puoi fare è ciò che è meglio."
"What's that you say?" said the king.
"He said, you did just fine. Just fine."
posted by storybored at 2:05 PM on September 22, 2020 [7 favorites]

Storybored, that's a great little story.
posted by Lizard at 8:27 AM on September 23, 2020

It is lovely <3 Storybored, I would read more.
posted by bunderful at 5:56 PM on September 23, 2020

Oh, thanks, I need all the motivation I can get. So I appreciate that very much, Lizard and bunderful. :)
posted by storybored at 8:58 PM on September 24, 2020

People who have never read any of Kirstein's Steerswoman series before: start with the first chapter of the first book (free to read online). If you like it, AVOID SPOILERS AND READ THE BOOKS IN ORDER, starting with The Steerswoman. Avoid also the paperback covers from the original print run as they contain spoilers!

People who already love Steerswoman: I offer these links for your delectation: posted by brainwane at 7:27 PM on September 27, 2020 [4 favorites]

« Older The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time   |   R.I.P. Ron Cobb, cartoonist and designer Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments