Nitocris, the Babylonian Queen Who Doesn’t Have Time for Your Nonsense

The Gate of Babylon
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The Queen of Babylon was sharp of wit, full of sass, and had exactly zero patience for the follies of men in power. Upon Nitocris’s death, at her orders her body was placed in a tomb directly over the main gate of the city, with the consequence that many kings chose to go around the back way rather than risk the ill luck of passing in all their panoply beneath a corpse. On the outside of her tomb was an inscription telling the kings that would rule after her time that a great treasure was laid within her tomb: “If any king of Babylon is short of cash, let him open up my tomb and take what he likes, but only at the most dire need. The treasure will do him no good if taken under other circumstances.” For a long time the tomb of Nitocris went undisturbed. At last, Darius had it broken open; he was irritated that he always had to enter the city by the back way like a man of lesser station, and it galled him that there was a treasure there just waiting to be taken. So he violated Nitocris’s tomb. Inside, he found not so much as a single coin. Just a corpse. And an inscription beside it:

If you hadn’t been such a greedy jerk, willing to grab money by any despicable means, you would never have violated the rest of the dead. —Nitocris.

The tale is from Herodotus, so it may or may not have actually happened; it isn’t always easy to corroborate Herodotus, a fact that he himself freely acknowledges. The “father of historians,” he had a way of collecting stories, including contradictory ones, presenting them each to the reader, and inviting the reader to consider which were likely and which were not. The tale of Nitocris is among my many favorites.

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Stant Litore is a novelist. He writes about gladiators on tyrannosaurback, Old Testament prophets battling the hungry dead, geneticists growing biological starships, time-traveling hijabi bisexual defenders of humanity from the future. Explore his fiction here. And here is one of his toolkits for writers, and here’s another book where he nerds out about ancient languages and biblical (mis)translation. Enjoy!

Now You Can Get the Ebooks Direct from the Author

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Short version: you can now buy my science fiction and fantasy directly from me at https://stantlitore.itch.io. I’m really excited about that! Also, if you look up ‘Stant Litore’ on Kobo, Apple, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, or the Kindle, you’ll find some great fiction to read!

Want to ride a tyrannosaur, travel across space and time to make first contact, or battle the hungry Bronze Age dead?

So, where can you find Litore’s stories?

1. ORDER FROM THE AUTHOR:

First, check out https://stantlitore.itch.io/ This is a cool indie site where creators can sell games, comics, and books, and it is where you can purchase my ebooks directly; 95% of the purchase goes straight to me. This is my main storefront; purchases here support me the most. I like this store because I can include bonus stories with your purchase if I want to, you can tip me extra if YOU want to, and I can show off the beautiful books more fully. When you buy the book, you get to download either a kindle or epub file (or both!) that you can then upload to your e-reader or open with most e-reader apps. Come take a look!

2. ORDER FROM AN EBOOK STORE OF YOUR CHOICE:

Second, my fiction is also listed now in many ebook stores, including Amazon Kindle, Google Play, Kobo, Nook, Apple Books, and (for my Australian readers) Angus & Robertson. Some of the books are listed on Mondadori, as well. To shop these stores, just use the links below:

For an omnibus of the dinosaur gladiator stories:
https://books2read.com/dinosaurs

For The Zombie Bible:
https://books2read.com/zombiebible

For Ansible Seasons 1 and 2:
https://books2read.com/ansible1
https://books2read.com/ansible2

For Dante’s Heart:
https://books2read.com/dantesheart

3. FOR LIBRARIES

Need an ebook copy for your library? Stay tuned – The books will be listed in Bibliotheca and Overdrive very soon! Librarians are my heroes, and I’m glad to be able to get them easier access to the books.

4. AUDIOBOOKS:

Want audiobooks? They’re not all released yet, but those that are, you can find them here:

What I’ll be working on next:

  • Finishing Ansible: Season 3
  • Finishing the Lives of Unforgetting audiobook
  • Working on the next dinosaur story

What is a Comma Splice? (And Other Tales of Grammar and Cosmic Horror)

Comma splice - image of books lying open
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What is a comma splice?

CW: Grammar and Gore

Like the mighty Dickens before me, I will use a comma splice if I judge the time right, if the stars are aligned and it is time to afflict grammarians with madness and woe as they gaze helplessly into the abyss of a cosmos that is uncaring of our punctuation and our futile attempts at order. However, I can never do so without also at that moment remembering the words of an English teacher who cautioned me and my fellow teaching assistants in an effort to prevent our venturing into such unwholesome magic.

This is what she said:

“I need to tell you what a comma splice is like. This is what it’s like. Picture a big ole snow slope and there’s a sled about to plummet down that slope like a greased piglet, and there’s this little child. The sled slips and the child reaches out and grabs hold of that sled and tries to stop it and you know what happens? I will TELL you what happens. That big ole sled just RIPS the child’s arm right off, and the sled careens on down the hill like a politician running from a scandal and the child’s arm is just flapping in the wind and spraying blood all over the snow, blood everywhere, just geysers of blood! Now imagine it had been a grown man on the hill instead and he reached out and grabbed hold of that ole sled and it stopped. It stopped because that man was strong enough to hold it, unlike the poor child bleeding out in the snow while his arm is off down the hill waving at the angels. See, that grown man is a semicolon and he could stop that independent clause dead in its tracks, but that poor child was just a comma. So every time you see a stray comma flapping in the breeze between two independent clauses where it has no earthly business being, you just remember that child’s arm spraying blood. That’s a comma splice. Now go teach your students that. They won’t forget it.”

Between the comma splice child, and the unclosed parenthesis just lurking around like a flasher in a trenchcoat bothering good people who just want to go about their sentences, and the sentence with passive voice that was like a lonely grad student who went camping and was expecting her boyfriend to meet her but a bear came first and ripped off half her face and took out one of her eyes and ate her, and after the mauling they found the body but not the bear, and nobody knew who or what had torn the poor grad student to pieces and cracked her bones for the marrow, because her sentence used the passive voice and only had a direct object and no subject, a body without any visible agent of its demise…

Well, between those things, I did not leave the assistantship unscathed. (My first published fiction was horror.)

The ways of punctuation proved dark and terrifying and fascinating and full of grim and grisly truth, like a Flannery O’Connor story, but for our teacher, proper punctuation was our line of defense, and our students’, against the otherwise inevitable predations of a lawless and hungry universe. I remain, as she predicted, both appalled and unforgetful.

Stant Litore

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Stant Litore is a novelist. He writes about gladiators on tyrannosaurback, Old Testament prophets battling the hungry dead, geneticists growing biological starships, time-traveling hijabi bisexual defenders of humanity from the future. Explore his fiction here. And here is one of his toolkits for writers, and here’s another book where he nerds out about ancient languages and biblical (mis)translation. Enjoy!