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Literature / Tales from the Securemarket

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"Have you ever wondered why your office requires that its employees have Martial and Magic Certification, but your local supermarket doesn’t? We seek to change this standard. The Securemarket™ is simply the safest and best shopping experience in New Washington, providing a wide selection of high-quality food and maintaining the best standards of protection in the service-provider industry. Our employees are all trained in the use of magics and weaponry and periodically participate in training retreats designed to hone their ability to protect and serve you. In the greatest city in the world, you shouldn’t expect anything less."
—Introduction, Tales from the Securemarket™

Tales from the Securemarket™ is an Urban Fantasy novel by Colin Sandel set in the fictional city of New Washington, which is itself located somewhere in the remains of the former United States of America.

Rather than focusing on the fantastical and adventurous aspects of its fantasy setting, Tales focuses instead on the mundane travails of a group of supermarket clerks working at one of the larger, better-respected grocery chains in the city.

The initial focus of the plot is the tumultuous romantic plot between the two most central heroes: Zap Bradshaw, a student of wizardry at Ethertech University, and Steve Anderson, a (female) apprentice gunsmith. The story itself is separated into three 'arcs', beginning with day-to-day stories at the store, following the employees to a training retreat, then bringing them back to changes in the store: namely, a deli counter and political unrest.


The book's official site is here. It's available in paperback through Amazon and can be read online or on an e-reader for free.

This story provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Raimi.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Michelle-Bear.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Averted, as New Washingtonians are their own race (which is brown).
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Arguably everyone, since New Washington naming conventions are ridiculous. Raimi and the Soft Winds Blow, however, gets a special mention.
  • BFS: Z'kerr's livemetal.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Zap and Steve, though it gets a false start thanks to Matt.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Securemarket™ Employee Aprons. Also, Michelle-Bear's Dura-Kev sundress.
  • The Bully: Sir Birchmore.
  • Cargo Ship: To'mas/Stun Turret.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Loren Waites, aka Lorem Ipsum.
  • Drop the Hammer: Michelle-Bear's day-to-day weapon.
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  • Our Elves Are Different: Elves in the Age of Corporations have long life and magical aptitude, their terrible twos last at least a year longer and puberty can take up to eight years.
  • Enemy Mine: Sir Kunimitsu and Sir Birchmore vs. Mayfield Ltd.
  • Famous Ancestor: Steve is a direct spiritual descendant of Annie Oakley, and has no idea who that is.
  • Fantastic Racism: Orcish, mutants and morphs are second-class citizens in New Washington.
  • Fictional Counterpart: Frequent.
    • The name 'Securemarket™' bears a striking resemblance to the real-life Safeway supermarket chain...
    • What's on tap? “Guy, Guy Lite, Cooper, Cooper Lite, Guinness, Sing-Sing-Sing, Trout, Lyre, and Fishhead Dog IPA.”
  • Foreshadowing
    • The oracular employee declares that he needs to buy a camera in the book's first chapter.
    • The figure in the broad-brimmed hat from Chapter 22.
  • Future Slang: Iyesu!
  • Gender-Blender Name: In 23rd-century New Washington, 'Stephen' is a gender-neutral name.
  • Genre Savvy: Matt. “I asked him why he took my picture, and he said, ‘For the epilogue.’ I was like, ‘What epilogue?’ and he said ‘Of the story.’”
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Michelle-Bear. Somewhat averted, since she makes it (barely).
  • I Have This Friend...: Click has an extremely hypothetical conversation with Raimi about some unethical magic that some hypothetical guy performed. Hypothetically.
  • In the Future, Humans Will Be One Race: New Washingtonians are the dark-skinned, mixed-race people of the urban USA, mashed together into a 'Washingtonian' race.
  • The Magic Comes Back: Or it did, during 'The Snowfall.'
  • Magic Knight: Raimi.
  • Magitek: Most modern Washingtonian conveniences make liberal use of both science and magic.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: The Snowfall, which brought about the return of magic over 200 years before the story started. Arguably also a World-Wrecking Wave, since it killed a nontrivial percentage of sentient life and permanently changed the lives of everything that survived.
  • Mooks: Mayfield Ltd. Militia.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Averted. The Big Bad of Arc 3 shares a name with a respected, real-life jazz musician.
  • Phony Psychic: Aggie, later revealed to be Raimi.
  • Photo Montage: Lampshaded hard by Matt for the epilogue.
  • Pink Is for Sissies: Steve mocks Zap's rose cigarettes. "Mages smoke them." "Femmey mages?... Mages who wear dresses?"
  • Pinocchio Syndrome: Nalley, who used to be Alan's car.
  • Polyamory: Neither shunned nor the status quo, but everybody in the big city seems to know what it is.
    • In a story about herself, Michelle-Bear implies that entering into a monogamous relationship is not something she prefers to do.
    • From references to his 'Second Wife', it is implied that Grover Messianic, Steve's Master, is a polygamist.
  • Punny Name: Matt Del Fye.
  • Rule of Three: Appears repeatedly throughout the three Arcs, and is stated to be a major cultural feature of New Washington. The book's third arc is named The Rule of Threes.
  • Seers: Matt.
  • Shout-Out
    • Steve's pistol is named Polaris. When she makes an energy conversion attachment to it? It's called the Spur.
    • The Three Gibbet Crossroads, the bar at which Alan's band plays, is named after one of the stories from Martin McDonagh's play The Pillowman.
    • Pazi's traditional Summoner outfit features a gold headband with a prominent horn.
    • According to Steve, Click's smile could melt faces like a Shadow Priest in PvP.
    • Click's Glamour magic is referred to as 'Granfalloon', named after the concept from the Kurt Vonnegut novel Cat's Cradle.
    • Sir Erdrick, the Senior Knight of the Securemarket™, is named after the legendary knight from the Dragon Warrior series.
  • Sword and Gun: All Corporate Knights.
  • The Spartan Way: The employee retreat, where the employees are expected to engage in gory, realistic combat simulations against one another. They are also forced to watch their Shift Supervisors be shot by their own manager.
  • Trash of the Titans: "Steve, this may be the messiest apartment in New Washingtonian history."
  • Unobtainium: So-called "High Density Plastic," which isn't even petroleum-based, comprises nearly every city-made material. Including glass.
  • Unsatisfiable Customer: Given that the book is about working at a grocery store...
    • The two Corporate Knights, the first time that they appear, have the employees covertly steering them away from each other to avoid an in-store duel.
    • Even after witnessing a Mimic attack, that one customer still wants the box of discontinued cereal it was disguised as.
    • Who pulls a gun over an expired coupon?
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Zap, confronting Click about using Granfalloon magic to sabotage Steve's chances with men. Not that he's been so great with Steve's feelings himself.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Steve and Zap. They will. But an oracle has to tell us.
  • Wizarding School: Zap goes to one, though we never see it.


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