Sunday Short: Ruthanna Emrys' The Litany of Earth

Sunday, October 19, 2014
This week's Sunday Short is Ruthanna Emrys' novella - The Litany of Earth, published in 

Art by Allen Williams, published via
The protagonist of Litany of Earth is Aphra Marsh, a woman from Innsmouth. Out of fear of her religion and magic, Marsh (with the rest of her family and town) are kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured by the government. We meet Aphra as she is living in San Francisco and working in a bookstore. At this bookstore, she is approached by a government agent asking for help in investigating a neo-Aeonism cult that may be harming others. 

The story drifts between moving scenes of Aphra explaining her religion and magic to Charlie (her boss), remembering her childhood, and interacting with members of the cult. In my opinion, Emrys crafts a story here that delves into Lovecraftian mythos while also calling out the racism intrinsic in the original works. There is no horror (as Lovecraft is known for), but an intrinsic sense of wonder and bewilderment of the greater unknown in our existence.

It is a complicated but beautiful story, and I for one am hoping that there may be more Aphra Marsh in the future. 

Some favorite lines of mine: 
"The power that can be found in magic is less than what you get from a gun, or a badge, or a bomb.. What magic is for is understanding. Knowledge. And it won’t work until you know how little that gets you.

"What our religion tells us is that the gods created life to try and make meaning. It’s ultimately hopeless, and even gods die, but the effort is real. Will always have been real, even when everything is over and no one remembers."
Rating: 4.5/5 

Next week, the Sunday Short will be a modern spooky story from - Lavie Tidhar's Selfies. Read and then try to take a selfie. I dare you! 


  1. Oooh, I have to say I love this feature Stephanie. I definitely don't think people take advantage of the free short stories available online as they should! Maybe if they knew there were some qualities works out there they would!

    I don't have time to read it right now (trying to catch up on commenting on participant posts >.<) but I have to say I love how you mention that it's not horror but a focus on the greater unknown in our existence. I actually think the unknown gives me the greatest fear. I'm such a control freak that just not knowing everything or being in control of everything freaks me out. So though it may not be horror, it may still scare me a bit! haha. Will have to check it out when I have time :)

    1. Thanks Asti! There are really so many amazing short story venues that publish online now; I am having fun finding ones that I like, and sharing those with others.

      I know what you mean about time though -- this weekend was crazy, and it is only going to get busier the closer we get to November. I really am looking forward to taking some quiet time tonight to go thru the other Horror October posts. Thanks for tracking everything so nicely via !


Copyright © 2014 Exploring Worlds
Template by These Paper Hearts