19

I read this short story in an anthology while standing in a Barnes and Noble in the US, probably around 1996. For some reason it stuck with me, and despite several years of intermittent searching, I can't seem to find it.

The story was about a man experiencing the afterlife - it turns out that when you die, you leave behind some kind of electrical or energy-based ghost. The image that stuck with me is that electrical ghost running along the underside of power lines or telephone lines, I think at one point being chased by some sort of "crusher", perhaps a ghostly predator.

As well, I remember the narrator describing signals/screams coming from space, specifically from the Pleiades/Seven Sisters. I think the implication was that the sky was full of electrical phenomenon only visible to ghosts like the narrator.

It was quite a vivid and unique story - I would love to read it again if possible.

14

After Googling this one I found this discussion thread where someone else had asked about this in 2016 at SFF Chronicles.

It was later discovered the story was "Radio Waves", by Michael Swanwick. According to Wikipedia Swanwick won the 1996 WorldFantasy award for it.

It was published in a 1995 issue of Omni magazine and more recently in an anthology called "The Best of Michael Swanwick"

It sounds like a really great story; I'm going to seek out a copy for myself.

The story opens with the protagonist running along the underside of telephone lines:

I was walking the telephone wires upside-down, the sky underfoot cold and flat with a few hard bright stars sparsely scattered about it, when I thought how it would take only an instant's weakness to step off to the side and fall up forever into the night.

The "Seven Sisters" are a cluster of radio antenna:

The antenna farm was visible from here. I could see the Seven Sisters spangled with red lights, dependent on the earth like stalactites. "Where are you running to, little one?" one tower whispered in a crackling, staticky voice.

The predator chasing him is called a "Corpsegrinder":

[...] I slewed about to see what was coming after me.

It was the Corpsegrinder.

When it saw that I'd spotted it, it put out several more legs, extended a quilled head, and raised a howl that bounced off the Heaviside layer.

  • Amazing! This is absolutely it... thanks! Can't wait to read the rest of his stories. – Adam Wise Jul 24 at 13:34

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