“Clay and Smokeless Fire” by Saladin Ahmed

Part of a series, though this story was my introduction.

Qumqam, a djinn, is wandering the United States during the Trump presidency when he comes across agents who have come to take a family he’s been watching. When the aging neighbor woman comes out of her house to intervene, Qumqam gets a pleasant surprise.

This one’s short, clocking in at less than 2,000 words. It’s got the punch that often makes a story this short work for me.

It’s also what I’ve been thinking of as an indulgent story recently. I know, not super descriptive by itself, but it came up when I was reading a comic the other day (this one). The stories line up with things I believe, or ways I think about issues, but resolve them in a similar sort of way to action movies—somewhat to very over the top, simplified, but still satisfying. Indulgent.

I haven’t read much of Ahmed’s besides his first novel. It’s been a while, but it was a good read. Fun. Unfortunately, I haven’t thought much about his writing recently. After reading “Clay and Smokeless Fire,” though, I’m eager for more of his work.

If you like his stuff, maybe check out his Patreon.


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