Call Me Stan

A Tragedy in Three Millennia

Excerpt

Names. They're so malleable.

I was originally called Ishtanu, after one of our sun gods. We had a lot of gods. Some were ours; some co-opted from our vassals. We had a lot of vassals, too.

My life started out like any other bronze age teenager’s. Shepherding. Arranged marriage. Military draft. It got more complicated when I realized I didn’t die. And it got a lot more complicated when other people realized it. Pre-modern society may have embraced a lot of theoretical immortals, but it wasn’t all that tolerant of actual immortality. Modern society isn’t noticeably better.

I cope by changing identities every 20 years or so. That creates its own complications, of course. You think you have trouble keeping track of your online passwords? Try keeping track, over thousands of years, of which name you’re using for each particular eyeblink of your life. So I try to keep a common element. I've been Drustan, Constantius, Constanze. You get the idea. Sometimes that isn't possible, so I've also been Olaf, Gestas, Jagdish, and so on. I was even Ishmael for a while. But don't call me that.

Description

When King Priam’s daughter was fleeing the sack of Troy, Stan was there. When Jesus of Nazareth was beaten and crucified, Stan was there, one cross over. Stan has been a Hittite warrior, a Roman legionnaire, a mercenary for the caravans of the Silk Road and a Great War German grunt. He’s been a toymaker in a time of plague and an information peddler in the cabarets of post-war Berlin. Stan doesn’t die, and he doesn’t know why. And now he’s being investigated for a horrific crime.

Reviews

Call Me Stan is a ludicrous epic and a tender-hearted romp—an easy-reading humanist adventure that feels as if Monty Python rewrote Virginia Woolf's Orlando.

- Sean Michaels, author of The Wagers and Giller Prize winner Us Conductors.