Half Past the Dragon

by Grant Carrington

    "Half Past the Dragon" was published in the November 1974 Fantastic. It was inspired by the Joe Staton cover for that issue, which shows a dragon attacking a space ship. I had gone to Ted White's house and asked if he had any upcoming cover paintings around that I might be able to write a story around. He had two.

    "Half Past the Dragon" was filled with puns and plays on words, including the title itself, which probably no one but myself would understand without explanation: It's a play on the Donald Colvin story, "Half Past Alligator" in the September 1953 Galaxy. And the protagonist is the pilot of a ship called Kimono, resulting in the line, "Kimono, my house." for you Rosemary Clooney fans.

    Ted tells a slightly different story in his introduction to the story: When I showed Joe Staton's cover painting to Associate Editor Grant Carrington a small light bulb flashed into existence over his head and he proclaimed, "I want to write a story to go with that painting." Herewith, the story.

    Lie down, my love, and I'll tell you a story. . . . It takes place in deepest interstellar space, where gravity is only a whisper, where lithium ions taste like cotton candy. It is only here, far from planetary masses, that space dragons will be found, for the dragons are fragile creatures, wisps of hydrogen and helium, traces of argon and nitrogen.