Read it Here: "Hangman"
By Erin Cashier
In: Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Beneath Ceaseless Skies has some beautiful artwork in it, worth a look.
It aims at an eerie kind of fantasy, some of which works better than others. "Hangman" is one of the more engaging ones, being a kind of space western in which the characters live a kind of frontier lifestyle while the world gets larger beneath them. This is an interesting idea, as are the trains which are able to go on traversing the expanding land and which have become in some way bringers of supplies and death. Together with them is the "hangman", who is actually a hanged man who did not, and does not, die. These are all riveting elements.
For me, these elements are not quite pulled together in a satisfying way. The way the train becomes dragon-like instead of remaining true to its own freakish nature is a little disappointing. It means that the final encounter between the train and the Hangman contains hints of the kind of explosion in the mind that might have been, but without the actual fireworks. "Hangman" is no fizzer - I would not have linked to it as suggested reading if it was nothing more than a damp squib, but it doesn't quite provide the neural explosion that its elements hint at.
It is my hope that Cashier will write other Hangman stories and be able to give those trains the impact they deserve.