As we continue to spotlight our contributors to A Darke Phantastique, we come to Derek Künsken whose very bizarre but enlightening story, “Buddha Circus” jumps right into fantasy:
I think Buddha is surprised. It’s hard to tell with him. I’ve only been following him around for a few days. And despite his enlightenment and extinguishing of self, it’s hard to imagine that he’s not irritated with me. I would be if I were tossed out of the Celestial Temple by two midgets, a bearded woman, and a clown on a unicycle.
Buddha rises with the dignity of thousands of years of contemplation, ignoring the flecks of grass on his yellow robe, and looks at me. I feel like the kid who scratched the principal’s car with my handlebar. I’d never meant to ruin Nirvana. I’d only meant to help people.
What inspired such strangeness?
I’m an atheist and a biologist, so I’m fascinated by different conceptions of spirituality and the soul, as well as questions about what kind of spiritual ecosystem might surround a soul. Can a soul get sick? Could a soul benefit from a kind of spiritual surgery or transplantation? What kind of spiritual thing would be made by grafting a plant soul to a human one? This is how “Buddha Circus” came to me.
Ex-scientist, ex-aid worker, and ex-diplomat, Derek Künsken now lives and writes in Gatineau, Québec, Canada. His stories have appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, On Spec, Black Gate, Podcastle, in various anthologies and multiple times in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. His work will also soon be appearing in Escapepod, Pseudopod, and Ellen Datlow’s Year’s Best Horror, Volume Six. His story “Way of the Needle” won the 2012 Asimov’s Readers’ Award in the novelette category. When not working or writing, he is inevitably teaching his nine-year old son something fun. His website is www.DerekKunsken.com and he blogs at www.BlackGate.com.