“Dynamics of a Hanging” — Tony Pi

Tony Pi has a Ph.D. in Linguistics and currently works as an administrator at the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. At the time of this writing, he is a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer. His work has appeared in (or is forthcoming from) Abyss & Apex, On Spec, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and the anthologies Ages of Wonder, Cinema Spec, and Writers of the Future XXIII. He is currently working on a novel manuscript about the shapeshifters who first appeared in his story “Metamorphoses in Amber,” which was a finalist for the Prix Aurora Award.

Most people know Lewis Carroll (the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) as the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Dodgson became good friends with the family of one of his academic colleagues, the Liddells, and would often take their children along with him when he went rowing on the nearby rivers. During these expeditions he would make up fanciful tales to entertain the children, and one of the girls, Alice, was so enchanted that she begged Dodgson to write it all down. The enthusiastic reception for the manuscript by fantasy author George MacDonald and his children convinced Dodgson to pursue publication. Dodgson’s private life has been the subject of intense speculation, especially regarding his relationship with the Liddells. (Dodgson’s family apparently destroyed several pages of his diary, presumably to protect his reputation.) We know that he was tormented by feelings of guilt and shame, which apparently restrained him from following his father into the priesthood. It’s all very mysterious. One thing that’s beyond any doubt though is that Dodgson demonstrated brilliance in many different fields. Notably, he held a lectureship in mathematics, and wrote books on logic. It’s those abilities that he puts to good use in our next adventure.