Decades of San Cicaro proved the most challenging installment to the series yet. Like its predecessors, this new anthology walks the fine line between horror and urban fantasy, yet adds a new historical fiction twist. I had feared I’d pushed the writing community too far, seeking deep research to go with our magical realism. Yet these writers delivered stories of local myths, cryptids and the occult, carefully woven around and into America’s past. They gave us tales of the Lincoln Battalion, the Lavender Scare, Sputnik’s launch, and Dust Bowl. Inspiration was taken from the Weather Underground Bombings, the invention of scuba, and the Sutro Baths disaster.

With little direction from Ali Habashi, Andrew Aston or myself, these writers posed the perfect question. Is the darkness borne of the supernatural or from the acridness of our country’s sins?

Historic Origins

The idea for San Cicaro came from the anime Demon City Shinjuku. In that movie, a twisted swordsman curses Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, plaguing it with high crime and demonic hauntings for ten years. During that time the Japanese government intervenes, then escalates, before finally giving up and urging citizens to stay away.

Few realize how authentic this could really be. The difficulty lies in proving that magic, fae, and demons exist. A democratic government would soon have to explain why it’s expending manpower and funds on strange, inexplicable investigations. Or the exact nature of a threat that demands the attention of the National Guard, since false pretenses only go so far. But could such unusual occurrences be ignored for whole decades?

Believe it or not, quite possibly. Arthur C. Clarke gave us food for thought when he said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” This is true. The catch is that actual magic, or its effects, are not always reproduceable. For any spell, incantation or ritual, there is often a little chaos. A vector of misunderstood risk. If magic isn’t quantifiable or reproducible, it cannot easily be proven. Application of the scientific method would be shaky at best, and thus officially sanctioned responses cannot be legally sustained.

Even today, we often dismiss such sightings as mere historic folklore, misunderstandings or drug-related experiences. Yet these inconsistencies let San Cicaro work, both as a setting and a series. One writer’s vision of a Dark Watcher may not match another’s. It’s that degree of freedom that allows authors to perform a little magic of their own. Decades of San Cicaro features seven great stories by new and old hands alike.

Table of Contents

“Echoes in the Bath House” by Adrianna Valencia.
“Slivers” by L.M. Charbonneau.
“Ascension of the USS Fairweather” by Banner Saga: Tales from the Caravan veteran Alex Singer.
“Garibaldi Pearls” by Welcome to San Cicaro veteran Ian Ableson.
“Moonshot” by Welcome to San Cicaro veteran Ichabod Ebenezer.
“Animal Control” by J. Rohr.
“The Last Obituary for the Old Man” by Vernon Miles.

Story host Olivia Murphy from Beasts of San Cicaro returns, and the editors would like to thank Larry Kay for the guest appearance of his character Xiomara Chivara.

Keeping it Real

One more thing. Keeping the nation-wide historic impact of Decades of San Cicaro under control was probably our biggest challenge. Technically, all historic fiction is slightly alternative history at least, and this is no exception. After all, San Cicaro itself doesn’t exist.

As a result, San Cicaro was more influenced by the times and the geography than before. There is considerably less city to the city. More parks and forests, more mountains. Decades does a great job staying in tune with the surrounding area, and thus gets closer to the root of the magic than ever before.

Yeah, you heard me… because times change. When one can look back, they can gaze into the future. And believe me, that ending is one of change. An ending that charts a new direction for San Cicaro.

An ending that foresees the end.

Decades of San Cicaro. Available February 22nd, from Thunderbird Studios.