"A Gift of Fire, a Gift of Blood" originally appeared in the fanzine YARF!, running from issues five through eight. The original version featured seven illustrations (four full-page) by Zjonni Perchalski. Those back issues are still available (the cover price is $3 apiece except for #6, which has a price of $4, but the reprint price may have increased); contact them at YARF!, P.O. Box 1200, Cupertino, CA 95015-1200 for more information.
While I was generally happy with the published version of "Gift," there were a few changes the editors made I didn't agree with (or find out about until it was printed -- although in fairness, I readily admit they are sufficiently small that it might take me days to find them again now). More importantly, there are differences in the way I would have handled some things if I was writing the story now than I did a year ago.
If you have read the original version, you can rest assured that there is no change in the plot, either development or outcome; some of the details have been refined. When a publisher friend and I talked about the possibility of producing a "collected limited" edition featuring the original story and one or two others featuring the same characters (bringing the total volume up to novel length), I knew I would want to rewrite "Gift." Although the collected volume is still in the planning stages, what you have in your hands (or on your screen) is the first draft of the rewritten version.
I am aware that any time a new version of something is produced, whether it is a piece of computer software, an album whose artist chose to remix it for CD release, or a story whose author wasn't satisfied with it even after publication, there is a strong likelihood that some people somewhere are going to prefer the first version. If you have read the first version and don't like the changes, I apologize--but I still stand by my belief that this rewrite makes "A Gift of Fire, A Gift of Blood" a stronger tale. If a character comes across differently, it is because I have learned more about him or her; if some dialogue, even some of your favorite, is changed, it is because I feel the first lines were not as true to the speaker as they should have been. With me it is not a case of "it's my story, so there"--in some way, I don't think this is my story at all. It is Mika's story, and also Dahlu's story, Jack's story, and Revar's story. Since I believe I can now tell their story more effectively, it would be a grave disservice to them not to have tried.
The files are formatted for printers that respond correctly to CR and LF
codes, i.e., a carriage return alone will overprint the last line instead of
advancing the paper without the linefeed. This is how the word processor I
used underlines passages in ASCII files. The format also assumes a standard
66-line/page printer. Be forewarned that the entire story runs 53 pages
(26,700 words, in case you're interested).
[Editor's note: These pages have been reformatted for viewing with Web browsers, and no longer contain printer control codes. Care has been taken to correctly preserve emphasis.]
This is effectively being distributed as "freeware" over Internet. All
the considerations that would apply to copyrighted software are in effect
here, which means you are violating my copyright if you sell this in any
form. This includes (in fact, it especially includes) selling printed copies
(or photocopies) that you have made. I also ask that you do not redistribute
this to any other information service, network or bulletin board, or make it
available from any other place in Internet than the "furry ftp".
[Editor's note: This story is available from this web page with the permission of Watts Martin.]
The sequel to "A Gift of Fire," entitled "The Lighthouse," will begin in YARF #15 and run for four issues, again with art (including a cover) by Zjonni. Write to them at the above address for more information.
If you have any comments about the story, please send them to Jimmy Chin on Internet at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or better yet, send them directly to me:
July 27, 1991