Back in July of last year, InterGalactic Medicine Show published my story “Last Night at the Café Renaissance” (complete with this great illustration by Larry Blamire). This is one of my all-time favorite stories, and I couldn’t be happier to see it in print. It’s also one of my most unusual stories, described by Jason McGregor in his Tangent review as “. . . one weird story . . . a blend of “imaginary land” and “alternate WWII Paris” . . .”
So where did this one come from? I can trace the inspiration for this story back to a conversation I had with two of my co-workers at my day job. We were on business trip, and were heading back to the hotel from dinner. On the drive across the island, we started talking about what it was like to work as a waiter, and it turns out one of my co-workers had spent a time in the restaurant business. He described at length how tired his feet would get working tables on a busy night. One thing lead to another and we started riffing off each other about ways to make waiting tables easier on the feet. One of those ideas was to suspend the waiters from trapeze wires and let them fly around the restaurant.
That idea stuck with me for a long time, but I had no story to go with it. I had only the image of waiters flying around a restaurant with trays full of food. A restaurant with an arrangement like that would need to be pretty avant garde, so I figured it needed be a place specializing in something like molecular gastronomy. Waiters on wires, artistic experimental food—what a great image!
And so was born the Café Renaissance, it’s staff, and a delightful multi-course meal dubbed “catastrophe cuisine.”
Add to that a war-torn setting, and a very human story about loss, vengeance, and redemption, and I found a story that made Tangent‘s recommended reading list for 2015. “Last Night at the Café Renaissance” isn’t available for free online reading (sorry), but you can access the issue of InterGalactic Medicine Show that contains it with a subscription, available here. I hope you’ll pick up a copy, and enjoy one of my favorite stories.