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Prophecies, Libels, and Dreams: Stories

Fantastical stories of rockstar magicians, murderous gloves, bouncing boy terrors, vengeful plush pigs, blue tinted butlers, and a Little Tiny Doom set in an opulent quasi-historical world of magick and high manners that bears a striking resemblance to Gold Rush California.

These inter-connected stories are set in an opulent quasi-historical world of magick and high manners called the Republic of Califa. The Republic is a strangely familiar place—a baroque approximation of Gold Rush era-California with an overlay of Aztec ceremony—yet the characters who populate it are true originals: rockstar magicians, murderous gloves, bouncing boy terrors, blue tinted butlers, sentient squids, and a three year old Little Tiny Doom and her vengeful pink plush pig.

By turn whimsical and horrific (sometime in the same paragraph), Wilce’s stories have been characterized as “screwball comedies for goths” but they could also be described as “historical fantasies” or “fanciful histories” for there are nuggets of historical fact hidden in them there lies.

Praise for Ysabeau S. Wilce’s previous books:

“This fresh and funky setting is rich with glorious costumes, innovative language and tantalizing glimpses of history.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Table of Contents

The Biography of a Bouncing Boy Terror!
Quartermaster Returns
Metal More Attractive
The Lineaments of Gratified Desire
Hand in Glove
Scaring the Shavetail


“The Republic of Califa remarkably like the U.S. Old West, were it saturated with chaotic and cunning magic is long past its glory days, but the wild stories remain. Wilce (the Flora Segunda series) leaps into this rollicking past with the “true” story of Springheel Jack in “The Biography of a Bouncing Boy Terror!” and only gets more fantastical from there. “Quartermaster Returns” demonstrates that great lengths are sometimes required to get someone to square their debts. In “Scaring the Shavetail,” Arizona soldiers invoke dangerous magic to rid themselves of a naive and inexperienced commander. Each rowdy and bloody story is followed by an afterword judging its historical and mythical merits, in one case determining that the work was “utter balderdash.” Magic and mundane mix and crash like a party falling in with a bar fight; sigils might be dug out of a mine alongside gold nuggets, and settlers die by daemon attack as often as by high-noon showdown or an Apache knife. Historical fantasy fans will want to saddle up with Wilce’s boisterous and skewed chronicle.”
Publishers Weekly

“Califa: riotous carnival world of soldiers, drunks and magick (very) loosely based on California in the 1800s. Califa: marvel of ingenuity and purple prose. . . . Ribald, raucous, distressingly appealing, so steeped in its own world that readers may well be driven to find everything else Wilce has written—this won’t be for everyone, but oh, my precious pillows, what a joy for those who can handle it.”
Kirkus Reviews

The Author on the Book

I see myself as the historian of the Republic of Califa, with each story being a fragment of a larger whole. Although the stories do not always appear to be immediately interconnected  they often have characters or situations in common, and they all take place in the same world, although sometimes at different points in time. I love to mix the fantastical with the historical: many of my characters are based on historical people, many of my settings are from history, but I don’t consider Califa to be an alternate history, per say, only a mash-up of the things I love best from the past (redingcotes, sabers, mules, lavish hair-styles, vengeful murders) combined with the elements of fantasy I adore (monsters, magick, vampires, stew). In this, I follow both T.H. White and Gene Wolfe—and William Shakespeare, for that matter, although I do not claim to be in any of these gentlemen’s league.

About the Author

Ysabeau S. Wilce was born in California and has followed the drum throughout Alaska, Spain, Mexico, Arizona, and Elsewhere. A lapsed historian, she turned to fiction when facts no longer compared favorably with the shining lies of her imagination. Prior to this capitulation, she researched various arcane military subjects and presented educational programs on how to boil laundry at several nineteenth century army forts. She is a graduate of Clarion West and has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, the James T. Tiptree Award, and won the Andre Norton Award. Wilce is the author of Flora Segunda, Flora’s Dare, and Flora’s Fury, and she has published work in Asimov’s, Steampunk!, and Fantasy & Science Fiction. She lives in San Francisco.

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