Karin Tidbeck is a Clarion graduate who has published various work in Sweden, but only recently turned to writing in English. "Augusta Prima" is the first story of hers I have seen, but several others are forthcoming. It is clear from "Augusta Prima" that Tidbeck has a wonderful facility with the English language.
Title character Augusta is a denizen of a very strange and decadent fairy world. The story begins with her participating in a most violent version of croquet. She stumbles upon a human corpse, takes the man's gold watch, and soon begins to ask very uncomfortable questions, such as: Why do the hands of the clock move when there is no time in Augusta's universe? She brings her questions to a powerful djinneya:
"I would like to know the nature of time," Augusta said. "I want to know why time can't be measured properly here, and why everything moves around."It is apparent from early in the tale that Augusta's curiosity may prove dangerous, but the turns in the story are unpredictable and interesting.
The djinneya laughed. "Your kind doesn't want to know about those things. You can't bear it."
"But I do. I want to know."
The djinneya raised her thin eyebrows. "Normally, you are tedious creatures . . . I believe this is the first time one of your sort has asked me a good question. It's an expensive one, but I shall give you the answer. If you really are sure."
"I have to know," said Augusta. "What is the nature of the world?"
The djinneya smiled with both rows of teeth. "Which one?"
This is quite a short piece, but I enjoyed it very much, and I look forward to much more of Tidbeck's work.