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The Longest Road in the Universe: A Collection of Fantastical Tales

The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales


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The Longest Road in the Universe

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Three broken people; a monk bearing a terrible scar, a warrior facing a terrible sorrow, a woman hiding a terrible past face a relentless army so hard to defeat it might as well be invincible. Genetically-altered residents of a volcanic desert struggle to preserve their intangible culture as nanomachines transform the world around them. A population of slaves engineered to love its masters comes to grips with their sudden absence, while one man travels to the center of the galaxy to find out where they have gone. Supermassive black holes at the end of the universe contemplate the cacophony before and the quiet ahead; mourning, eulogizing, and creating something altogether new. These and other stories await you in The Longest Road in the Universe: A Collection of Fantastical Tales by Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award shortlisted and Pushcart Prize nominated author C.S. MacCath.

The Stories

  1. Black the Wound, Bright the Scar (C is for Change)
    • Pushcart Nominated
  2. The Daemons of Tairdean Town
  3. Casting Sin
  4. Akhila, Divided
    • Received Honorable Mention in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois
  5. For Want of an Ash Fall (N is for Nanomachine)
    • Shortlisted for the Washington Science Fiction Association Small Press Award
    • Nominated for the Pushcart Prize
  6. Sing the Crumbling City
  7. The Longest Road in the Universe
  8. Grandmother Mælkevejen's Belly
  9. T Is for Three (At the End of All Things)

Advance Praise for The Longest Road in the Universe:

Beautifully written, elegant and elegiac, based on a genuine originality of thought.
--Liz Williams, author of The Detective Inspector Chen Novels


I recently had the pleasure of reading C.S. MacCath's short story collection, The Longest Road in the Universe. I had previously enjoyed the titular story as well as "Akhila, Divided" and I looked forward to exploring the other tales in the collection.

Many of the stories are science fiction but that scientific foundation is woven elegantly into the lives of a diverse cast of characters, all of whom are undergoing remarkable transformations. As an example: Jens, the main character in "The Longest Road in the Universe", is on a physical journey, but the story is really a reflection of the emotional and spiritual path he travels. Every aspect, whether internal to the character or external, is influenced by the science underpinning the story.

Her characters are truly different. Several make decisions that seem unfathomable (yet inevitable, upon reflection) but despite their differences (or perhaps because of them) I always felt connected with them. Their sufferings and joys carried with me past the reading itself. And the world building, in each story, is incredible.

There is a definite style across all the stories -- regardless of genre. C.S. MacCath's prose is delightful... the individual lines, poetic. It is impossible to pick out my favorite, but I think the following (from "Daemons of Tairdean Town") serves as an effective example: "...before the pastor knew it, every person in his care was purple and fragrant and raving." With careful word choice, she builds imagery and delivers scenes full of emotion. C.S. MacCath's stories are meant to be read slowly and savored.

This is a wonderful collection of unusual and engaging stories, highly recommended.
--Brent Knowles, creative director of Dragon Age and author of The Lazy Designer


This collection of short stories has a rich texture and a profound appreciation for human courage and decency, even when its characters aren't entirely human. From avenging sentient bombs to former slaves struggling to remember their ancestors' humanity, it's a vivid, epic and touching journey.
--Alex Bledsoe, author of The Hum and the Shiver


The Longest Road in the Universe is packed full of lush worlds, lyrical prose, three-dimensional characters and honest emotions. It is an immersive experience best enjoyed with a cup of tea in hand and a storm outside, but even lacking those things every science fiction fan should make time to read this collection. It is, in short, amazing.
--Rhonda Parrish, editor of the Alphabet Anthologies and Magical Menageries


Brace yourself, reader – before you in these pages lie delightful, terrifying, uncompromising monsters, ready to claw wounds into flesh and soul. Drawing deeply from mythology to weave tales of hard-earned spiritual enlightenment, C.S. MacCath demonstrates an uncanny talent that crosses all genre boundaries. Whether she’s spinning the story of a witch who can speak to everyone’s demon double, a space traveler who sells pieces of his body in exchange for history's revelations, or a shape-shifting, guilt-wracked human bomb, MacCath brings their struggles and triumphs to fierce and formidable life.
--Mike Allen, Nebula Award and Shirley Jackson Award finalist

"T is for Three (at the End of All Things)"

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Before the ancient stars coalesced into brightness, in the vault of the foregoing universe, there were sorrows too great for any being to bear, and the greatest of these was the sorrow of ending. Not the end of a day, with its sundown promise of another sunrise, and not the end of a life, while memories of the dead remain and there is hope in some hearts for the soul's journey onward. No, this sorrow was vast, cold and complete, and it spanned the void of space among the last rough fragments of matter strewn in terminus.

Three supermassive black holes at the end of the universe contemplate the cacophony before and the quiet ahead; mourning, eulogizing, and perhaps creating something altogether new. Now available in the C is for Chimera anthology.

“T” by C.S. MacCath is a symphony of words, a glorious creation story that draws on physics and light and life. - Stephanie A. Cain elegant elegy, blending scientific theories of the beginning and ending of universes with the more immediate concerns of living things. - Jennifer Crow

"Casting Sin"

This ebook is no longer for sale, but the story is included in:
The Longest Road in the Universe: A Collection of Fantastical Tales.

Hedea looked down the ribbon of road that led from the center of town to the edge. It was brown and dusty; she longed to sweep it like a kitchen floor. But where would she pile the dirt when she was done? Would she sweep it to the left, up over the bending tulips and into the bread-white foyer of the baker’s shop? Would she sweep it to the right, under the bellies of horses and into the forge? Her hands twitched with the memory of simple tasks; wringing, smoothing, sweeping, and her hair blew like dandelion seeds away from her wrinkled face and stooped shoulders. She straightened those shoulders around an ancient knot in the center of her back and waited for her neighbors to spill out onto the spring-green lip of the road, their hands wrapped around basket-handles and the fists of small children. She wept then, more for the little ones than for herself. They shouldn’t have to see this so early in life.

A woman scapegoated by her community runs a magical gauntlet which ends in either freedom or death. Will she make it to the edge of town and into the waiting arms of those who walked the gauntlet before her? Find out in "Casting Sin."

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Random Quote

Nagh insh dou cre va mee, agh insh dom cre ta mee.
Don't tell me what I was, but tell me what I am.


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