There is a book called Kyot: The Storybook Puzzle Box.
It contains 140 pieces of short fiction, each less than a page in length. These are presented in 14 chapters, each of which ends with a continuing narrative that frames, discusses, and eventually resolves a single over-arching riddle that is tied to and fulfills the stories told.
And it’s very much a crazy, psychedelic flower.
You can blast through at your leisure with no regard for the arc or riddle and just appreciate stories “inspired by the mind-bending fantasy of Jorge Luis Borges and the wide-eyed awe of Arthur Clarke”. Planet-sized DNA machines, cities made of code, daring battles with intelligent bacteria, mysterious space ships, undersea empires, and a singularity in a bubble all await you. By chapter 8, you’ll have met the key players in the big arc the stories are tying together, though the bigger picture really starts unfolding from chapter 10 on. (That’s the flower analogy)
Or you can capture notes about the three mysterious ladies in the chapter epilogues along the way and try your hand at solving the riddle. Things they say, and the shocking interactions between them tell you all you need to know to figure out who they are. That’s the riddle – who are they? (Don’t peek at the Epilogue!)
I thought I’d highlight one of the pivotal introductions for you today and add a little art to flesh it out. Enjoy:
Kyot: The Storybook Puzzle Box Story Chapter 8, Story 7:
“We Need A Prophecy”
“It’s a shame”, Solis said as he watched the last space ship decompress in a cloud of ice crystals and wreckage outside the view port. “I knew the supply corps guy on that ship. We could have had more booze.”
Lieutenant Yama was too fat to squeeze in beside him and watch, but probably wouldn’t have tried anyway. There were two bottles left here, and quite likely only two people left alive in a fleet battle of over a million souls. All the ships were dark now, peppering the neon blue and lime green of the living planet below them. The tiny life-launch they crouched inside was good for only another few hours at best. The battle was over, sure, but who would tell anybody about it?
So he farted.
“Hey!” Solis shouted and punched his arm.
“We need a prophecy.” Yama mumbled, slurring his words. His eyes were pink, but not just from the liquor.
Solis took a sip and squatted uncomfortably, “Yeah?”
He nodded, pursing his lips, “A real cryptic thingie, with a chosen one and some random fancy words in it. Hard to understand, you get me?”
“And why’s that? Who’d read it?”
“All sorts of people. We won’t say it’s from us, man. Will be the last words of…say…a mysterious kid possessed by the umm…ascended collective intelligence of the umm…previous universe. Before the big bang. How’s that?”
Solis stared back, unimpressed, “Why?”
Yama frowned and jammed his hand into a satchel for a pen, “So somebody someday will think they’re the chosen one…and people will follow them and do good things.”
“You think somebody will do that? Because we write something curious and leave it out here floating in the wrecks?”
Yama stuck his tongue out to the side as he thought through his alcohol stupor and tore off a piece of his uniform for a parchment, “Good things, Solis. Big…good…things. We need people who will do good things. And never this here, what we did.”
Solis nodded and glanced back to the debris outside.
“Never this again.”