How to kill a djinn

“I read the oldest fragments of the Hezar Efsan, which was the core of the Thousand Nights and One Night; and in the Midian mountains of the Hejaz I found communities of Magians, fire-worshippers, and traded gold and medical-supply whole blood and thermite bombs for the privilege of witnesses their distressing mountain-top liturgies. In all the very oldest records, djinn are described as being killed by … trivial-seeming things: someone carelessly throwing a date-stone at one of them, or accidentally hitting with with a misaimed fowling arrow, or even by taking a sparrow out of a hidden nest. Eventually I decided that the way to kill a djinn was to change the shape of its animated substance in a particular way.”


“I decided that a Shihab meteorite would comprise the death of a djinn —not in the stone’s internal structure, but in its melted and re-hardened shape. The meteorites are always pitted with round holes, like bubbles, uniform in their dimensions but of all sizes, even down to microscopic; I concluded that the concavities in the surface of the meteorite are the imprint of a djinn’s death, repeated at every possible scale, and that if I could summon the djinn down from the mountain peak to the stone in the gorge, and then explode it in the midst of them, the pieces would be propelled into the substances of the creatures, forcing their stuff to assume the complementary convex shape.”


“The djinn are supposed to have existed before mankind…and in many ways they are a more primitive sort of life, more crude. Their thoughts are kinetic macroscopic events, wind and fire and sandstorms, gross and literal. What the djinn imagine is done: for them to imagine it is to have done it, and for them to be reminded of it is for them to do it again. Their thoughts are things, things in motion, and their memories are literal things too, preserved for potential reference—wedding rings and gold teeth looted from graves, and bones in the sand, and scorch marks on floors, all ready to spring into renewed activity again at a reminder […] To impose a memory-shape onto their physical makeup is to forcibly impose an experience—which, in the case of a Shihab meteorite’s imprint, is death.”

Tim Powers, Declare