Crabs and Serpents

While I was drifting off to sleep the other night the title of a story popped into my head: The Sky Trees of Holdar. Now this isn’t a new title but one I made up many years ago. All I had for the story was a mental image of floating trees – spherical growths like mistletoe – between which people were cycling about on floating bicycles, one of the people looking very Victorian and wearing a stovepipe hat. This was a story that, so to speak, never got off the ground and I believe a piece of it resides in the depths of my ‘BitsSF’ file.

This got me to thinking about some other stuff that went through my mental processor and either got discarded or used in a different way. I remember, when I was maybe 16 or 17, starting to write something that was a mish-mash of hazy ideas and stuff swiped from books I’d read (as all such early writing is). I had a title for it: The Crab, the Serpent and the Carpenter. I liked this title but hadn’t got a great deal to fit it. The title, I suspect, took its form from books read in my early teens (or earlier – long time ago now) like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
In this I visualized a world that consisted mostly of mud flats, which probably arose from the mud flats of the Essex coast and my experience of struggling through them for miles on fishing trips. It had giant glassy centipedes that skimmed across the surface and would of course kill any human they found. Here then was the serpent, which owed its genesis to a strange combination of the sandworms of Dune (because I’m sure a product of their life cycle was some kind of drug) and fishing again, well, bait digging. A character in it was Councillor Ebulan the Crab. I enjoyed describing him but thereafter had no idea what to do with him. The project died a death after a number of pages and disappeared, but the ideas didn’t. Ebulan the Crab was the start of the prador and put in an appearance in The Skinner. And over the years the ‘glass serpents’ transformed into hooders.

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