We are thrilled to announce our acquisition of Eugen Bacon’s MAGE OF FOOLS, from Bieke Van Aggelen of Van Aggelen African Literary Agency, for publication in 2022.

MAGE OF FOOLS is an Afrofuturistic tale set in the socialist country of Mafinga—plagued by climate change. Mafinga needs a savior as the socialist state is sick from the ravages of a dictator and his sorcerer. Jasmin’s strength is in books—what she knows might cleanse Mafinga of its deadly pollution. MAGE OF FOOLS is a story about the spirit of humanity, and free will. It’s about hopes and dreams, country, liberty and belonging. A secret story machine tells of fate, love and promise, charted by bold authors and their indelible scripts.

Excerpt

IT HAPPENED in slow motion. Jasmin ran inside the castle that stood atop a hill. She raced up the winding staircase, hands moving along its mahogany rail shimmering with sheen. The Heidi dress she wore, a flowing thing that plunged down her waist and touched just above her knees, rose and fell with her running. No belt, just front buttons going all the way down. She lit up a flight, up another, up, up. She rose with such thrill, such rush, all the way to the nursery in the northeast tower of the marble-coated monolith. She flung herself into the rotary room—it slowly moved, revolved: a sundial or a snail-paced merry-go-round. It was a tavern with faint music in the background, an odd melody, the hiss of a snake and a soft clash of cymbals. Arched doorways, pillars rimmed with gold. Bracelets of orange-flamed candles at half-mast. Along the walls hung dimly lit paintings inside veils of cloud, each with a version of the Garden of Eden. Eve leaning towards a behemoth serpent. Eve offering a glowing red apple to Adam. Eve and Adam running naked from an ash-haired God—a voluptuous woman full of breasts.

Jasmin caught sight of the children and her heart swelled. Two-year-old Mia in her unicorn pajama set, tiny shorts and a T-shirt. Four-year-old Omar in his all-over flying dragon jammies. They lay on the floor, head to head, as the nursery spun.

“My goatlings.”

Mia puckered up at the sight of Jasmin. Omar’s eyes filled with reproach. Days and days of their mother’s absence. She dropped to her knees, threw her arms wide. The children yanked out of their moment, soared within reach, fell into her breast.

. . . Pause.

Pause for a moment, that wasn’t the beginning of the story. Rewind, back, back down the stairs. Jasmin tearing backwards, down a flight, down another, down, down. Her rush, her thrill ebbing, as she moved away from the nursery, out of the castle with its white walls and white doors, mirrors everywhere. She walked backward along light-splashed lawns and their gardens full of blood-red flowers. She moved, not at a furious pace—just faster than slow. Back, back beyond the Ujamaa monuments of togetherness, sculpted hands of a village holding aloft a naked, black toddler with fat legs and plump cheeks. Back past the courthouse and its long windows, golden drapes in hourglass shapes, bound at the waist by melancholy ribbons. The courthouse splashed with lights from a trail of monster eyes hanging off the ceiling. A dais where the royals sat to give judgement. People went through the entryway peaked with spikes and never walked out.

Rewind all the way to the egg shuttle—it had no wings—where you entered coordinates into the console and the vessel took you for an intergalactic ride. The same shuttle that had seen the Neutral Zone, where you gazed at planets like Peridot and Tourmaline and they blinked brighter than jewelry. The shuttle that once lived in the land of Exomoon that had no shortage of xeriscape plants, its wild blooms, cacti and succulents, its sky of gargantuan rings by day and tiny moons by night. There, citizens changed color in more spectrum than chameleons. Same shuttle that airlifted Jasmin to her execution.

Granite entered Jasmin’s stomach as the vessel glided to height, then bulleted forward. As the starlit night stretched into the horizon, Jasmin was a prisoner in a silent egg in the sky. She looked down and saw the people of Ujamaa Village in a gather. They gazed up at the egg flickering with incandescent lights as it climbed higher into the skyline with its cargo. Jasmin wondered if, on the face of it, despite the crowd’s helplessness, some carried questions about what died, what lived, and the power of a crowd. She wondered if, one day, a turning point would swing without warning in Mafinga. And when that happened, if the same mob that stood with limp hands and gazed with bleak eyes at dusk and the egg soaring up the sky towards its scatter of stars, would reach the edge of its stupor, finally tremble and come to life in a murmur that lit up to a roar.

Eugen M. Bacon

Eugen Bacon is African Australian, a computer scientist mentally re-engineered into creative writing. She’s the author of Claiming T-Mo by Meerkat Press and Writing Speculative Fiction by Red Globe Press, Macmillan. Eugen’s work has won, been shortlisted, longlisted or commended in national and international awards, including the Bridport Prize, Copyright Agency Prize, Australian Shadows Awards, Ditmar Awards and Nommo Award for Speculative Fiction by Africans. Website: www.eugenbacon.com Twitter: @EugenBacon