Two grandes dames of the Gilded Age battle for position in Newport society by planting increasingly outrageous and environmentally devastating theme gardens.
To read the story for free, click here:
THE LADIES’ AQUATIC GARDENING SOCIETY (PDF)
To listen to the free podcast version, click here:
THE LADIES’ AQUATIC GARDENING SOCIETY (PODCAST)
This story appears in the June 2015 issue of Asimov’s. It was a finalist for the Nebula award. It was re-printed in Chinese in Science Fiction World Magazine and in Croatian in Sirius-B Magazine.
I chose this story to write under Connie Willis at Clarion West Writers’ Workshop because I love Connie’s use of humor. I chose to write it in this stitched-up mock 19th century prose style because I enjoy how uncomfortable the language is and I love the coldness of Jane Austen’s observations about human pettiness. I also wanted to write something about the excesses of the Gilded Age because in my work as an art dealer, I learned that many of the most beloved collections of art made available to the public and many of our most important cultural institutions were funded with fortunes in industries that had devastating environmental and social impacts or that exploited powerless peoples and animals. Finally, I wrote this story because I just love gaping at rich people behaving badly.
Artist Caroline Sirounian and I collaborated to create this original oil painting inspired by the story, which is a Surrealist makeover of John Singer Sargent’s “The Wyndham Sisters”.