If I blurt out the story concept of "As Below, So Above," it will sound silly. And the story would have been silly if not handled so adeptly, right from the opening lines:
Up at the shimmering edge of the sky, where the water met the air, Son spread his tentacles out beneath the terrible shadow of his father. They were waiting for the ships. Son felt the approaching heart-thrum bouncing off the coral-crusted hulls below as the ships crested the painwall.You don't really know what's going on yet, but you know it's pretty darn strange. Some of the strangeness is misdirection —— water is meeting air in the sky simply because the narrator lives underwater, so to him the surface of the sea is the "edge of the sky" —— but it helps put you in the right frame of mind to take in the real strangeness: our narrator is a giant kraken, who with his father guards the mysterious island home of their scientist creator.
More accurately, the scientist created the father and his late wife, and they in turn created the son. This layer of separation from their creator makes all the difference in enabling the son to begin to evaluate the krakens' place in the world dispassionately, just as the greatest assault yet on their master's hideout begins.
The proof of how well Steinmetz gets you into the skin, er . . . scales, er . . . I just don't fucking know, of his characters is that you really start to care about what happens to the giant-squid father, and about the narrator's potential moral dilemma when he meets the mad-scientist creator. Good stuff!
In the past two years, Ferrett Steinmetz has published about a dozen pieces of short fiction, including two pieces in Asimov's and a story forthcoming in Shimmer. Another name to add to the watch list.