Sea, Ship, Mountain, Sky

Kelly Link Gavin J. Grant

A unique collaboration between Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant, “Sea, Ship, Mountain, Sky” is a story of love and loss, identity and respect, life and death and change.

Originally published in the summer 2000 double issue of the Australian magazine Altair (No.6/7—sharing a ToC with Alan DeNiro!), “Sea, Ship, Mountain, Sky” was reprinted in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror XIV (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling, eds.).

Length: 4,000 words. 10 pages in pdf.

Read an excerpt:

Father told us a story from a long time ago, when we lived by the sea. He said, “We were boatbuilders for the dead.”

In my family the oldest child learned the skills from their mother or father. The boats had to be sturdy enough to go far out to sea, yet light enough to burn well. Then the northerners came and killed many of us so we moved, left the sea and our boats behind us and came to these southern mountains where we had to find a new path for the dead.

Our village is in a high valley where we grow most of what we need. We herd the mountain sheep with their rough, silky wool. We grow flax. We tend orchards. And up beyond the village, up through the orchards, a half-day’s walk with a bier, is the burial place.

Father has been drinking salt wine. Now he is asleep. At mother’s burial today I could see that this story is true. It is indeed a ship that we build for the dead. I have done this, I have built ships, since I was a child. My shoulders are big from chopping and carrying wood, and my hands are hard. The other children—even my brothers and sisters—were always a little afraid of me. But there is one in the village who returns my looks and sometimes exchanges a few words with me, so I do not expect to be always lonely. It is a solitary job, but it carries respect.


About the authors

Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant have published a zine, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, since 1996, and founded Small Beer Press in 2000. In 2007 they published The Best of LCRW (Del Rey). Candlewick will publish their young adult anthology, Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, in 2011.

Kelly Link is the author of three short story collections, Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, and a collection for young adults, Pretty Monsters. Her stories have appeared in The Faery Reel, The Restless Dead, The Starry Rift, The Best American Short Stories, Poe’s Children, McSweeney’s Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales and Firebirds Rising, and have won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Tiptree, British Science Fiction, and World Fantasy Awards. She worked for three years at a children’s bookshop in North Carolina and for five years at Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop in Boston.

Originally from Scotland, Gavin J. Grant moved to the USA in 1991. He worked in bookshops in Los Angeles and Boston and has written for the Los Angeles Times, Bookslut,and Time Out New York, and is a zine reviewer for Xerography Debt. His stories have been published in Strange Horizons, SciFiction, 3 AM Magazine, and The Third Alternative, and have been reprinted in Best New Fantasy and Year’s Best Fantasy.

Grant, Link, and their daughter Ursula, live in Boston, MA.

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