Tom Williams’ story for Mythic Resonance is taken from a mediaeval story about Prince Llywelyn and his faithful dog. I know the original story and can hardly bear to read that again, it’s so very sad. Tom’s version is set in the distant future, on a colony world, but as he says, it’s a universal story; there are no sorceries, no aliens, no evil wizards, just a man and his dog. It’s one I can imagine set in the Australian bush, written by Henry Lawson. I’d like to think it’s not true, but it’s all too easy to believe. In any case, Tom’s story gave me as much of a lump in the throat as the original mediaeval tale did.
As a kid I devoured books about myths and legends. Ancient Greek tales were my favourite. None, however, had a greater impact than the story of Prince Llywelyn and his hound Gelert. I can’t have been the first person moved by the tragedy and the downright unfairness of that tale’s ending. There are variations on the story in many cultures, which suggests that it is, indeed, a legend rather than a true event, but it still produces the proverbial lump in the throat.
The story stuck with me through the years, and I decided to attempt my own riff on it. Since, in my not so humble opinion, the basic plot is so perfect there was never a question of changing it. The first thing that came to mind was a contemporary version, but I quickly discarded that as unlikely to offer much scope for distinction. Then the idea of a futuristic take fired my imagination, and a single evening’s work produced the first draft of what would become “Man’s Best Friend”.
My main aim in writing the story was to keep the emotion I felt when first reading the original legend. The use of present tense and first person seemed the best way of achieving this. Whether I have succeeded I will leave to the readers’ judgement.
"Man's Best Friend" is the only short-story I've written this decade, having been preoccupied with novel-writing for the last five years. As far as I can recall, "Mythic Resonance" is also the first paying gig I've had in an Aussie publication in over a decade. I first heard about the anthology a few months after I wrote the story, and it seemed a perfect match. After getting my copy of this well produced publication, with its excellent collection of stories and authors, I couldn't be more pleased with my return to the worlds of myths and legends. Kudos to Stephen Thompson and the rest of the Specusphere team.
Tom Williams has had short stories published in various obscure places, both on- and off-line, including the acclaimed "Nemonymous". One day he might get around to making a website to make it easy to find some of those stories. For the moment, those interested - the two of you - will have to try Google.