It is great to see this kind of excitement over the short story. There are 5 ways to participate in this 2008 reading challenge. Check it out!
What I like about Mythos stories is that you can always tell the good ones from the bad ones. The good ones are all written from the first person witness. The reader gets to tag along on an adventure into the strange and demented.
In Gaiman’s addition to the ever growing Mythos, the Old Ones are among us. As in some of Shakespeare’s plays, a comedy troop tells the truth that can not be uttered: “… the Old Ones whose coming was foretold, returning to us from R’lyeth, and from dim Carcosa, and from the great plains of Leng…” had returned years ago and had taken up place of power and influence.
In this story, the Old Ones are the establishment. One has been killed and a very Sherlock Homes and Watson like duo seek out the murderer though precise tracking of clues. However, this Homes, meeting his Professor James Moriarty, is out eluded. The murderer leaves a letter that explains how he was able to out deduct our detective.
Again, I wish I had written this story. The language feels authentic and appropriate for Lovecraftian fan fiction. It has a quick pass and engaging plot. It also has a new twist, Old Ones as world leaders and peace keepers (there is no war under their rule) that brings needed fire back to the subject matter.
Gaiman, Neil. “A Study in Emerald.” Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. p. 1 – 25
Enter the noir-styled private eye who has a hacker’s skill for compiling and interpreting information and no one can hide, no one is truly off the grid. Our dick, Aman, has been hired to find a Gaiiest, a member of a new organization that tries to hide from Big Brother by buying unprocessed food and items that they believe are untagged and untraceable.
For Aman, finding this Gaiiest is child’s play. There is only one person that could hide from Aman, his son. His son is also a Gaiiest and has chosen to live without the traceable conveniences of the modern world.
Like most noir, the dick is a nice guy and like a cat over curious about the subject he is pursuing. Rosenblum has me tricked with the twists and turns in her story. I did not catch on to Aman’s real intent in taking this case from the government agent until it was spelled out at the end. I won’t ruin it for you. You will just have to find the story and read it.
This will be my last review of a story included in Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology for this issue. Check back next month for more. If you can’t already tell, I absolutely love this anthology.
Rosenblum, Mary. “Search Engine.” Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology. Ed. James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2007. p. 369 – 388
I’m a big fan of both Aliens movies and Predator movies. I’m not such a big fan of the Aliens Vs Predator movies. However, Requiem is not bad. The body count was high. Most of the main characters bought it (I cheered when the over sexed blond love interest died). The Predator was like an evil Batman that killed everything that moved.
Still, there were too many people that had close in counters with both Aliens and the Predator and survived. The AVP franchise has had a couple of opportunities to develop another Ripley. The AVP movies are missing a main strong female lead.
The Alien movies are not Aliens movies without the presence of Ripley. Yes, these are AVP movies and the Predator movies had Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Glover. However, with AVPR it seems that a new Ripley might just be emerging with the character of Kelly played by Reiko Aylesworth.
If there is going to be a third AVP movie, then I hope that we see Kelly again.
What did I expect to do with an MFA in Writing?
- Teach at a Community School
- Teach at a For Profit School
- Run a writing center in a High School or Middle School
- Copy Edit
Perhaps my view of what I want to do is too narrow. Does anyone have any good ideas that I should pursue ABT (all but Thesis) to gain experience?
PS. The dream is to publish short stories and novels.
See, in the advent of an attack, sysadmins from all over the world, connected to their mainframes and servers with alert protocols would be signaled, called back to their clean rooms with electromagnetic shields and filtered air. They would survive by chance because their wired-child’s cries would bring them running to see what is wrong, an upgrade needed, a hard shutdown and reboot, or a viral threat is about to invade the root.
What is the world like after? What will the world look like when the only humans left are those that would rather talk to a machine than another person? What kind of government would emerge? How will things ever get back to normal when the most important thing on a sysadmin’s mind is runtime and connectivity?
These questions and more are answered in this crazy story about a man who left his wife and child behind to nurture a machine.
This is an amazing story of human will and the urge to stay connected. You have to read it. So, here are three ways to find it:
Doctorow, Cory. “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth.” Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology. Ed. James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2007. p. 389 – 424
Doctorow, Cory. “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth.” Overclocked. New York: Thunder Mouth Press, 2007. p. 5 – 56
If you would rather listen to this story, Cory Doctorow has read it aloud as a podcast, When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.
It is a story. It might feel, at the beginning, like just a setting in a script, completely objective with references to where and how the camera is placed, but the end composite is more than just a cold look at a cardboard city in Japan.
Sometimes, the world forgets that as it progresses down the shiny techno-laden road on the way to see the wizard, that the gap between classes grows winder. If you have the skills, you will succeed. However, if you do not have the skills needed to shuffle information and organize it into meaning, you run the risk of losing it all.
There is no shame in living in a cardboard community. We all fall on bad times, bad luck. It is what comes next that really matters. What we do to survive in a world that has no use for some and a use for others.
Is this just Social Darwinism at work?
Gibson, William. “Thirteen Views of a Cardboard City.” Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology. Ed. James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2007. p 119 - 128
The story takes place in world where senators have their own black-opts division and directly employ more than 20,000 people, a world where the USA constitution has been superseded by NAFTA, a world where people can be pupated by rogue AI.
However, in this world of political strife, there are forgotten zones where people live off the Tax grid. Where bartering is the rule and money is useless. A world where a simple bike-mechanic named Lyle is trying to make a living.
Lyle is a true anti-hero. He is a slacker to the outside world that has forgotten him, evolved beyond him and his shop where he fixes flats and adjusts chains. However, he has a legitimate non-tech business. Lyle makes a little extra on the side by renting out a small room in the back of his shop. The last squatter has long since departed, but every once in awhile has mail sent to Lyle’s shop. Like today, when a bike messenger drops off a package containing a black box, an old analogue TV set.
The fun in this story is how Lyle and a bunch of his friends are able to stop and apprehend a certain senator’s thief-assassin. It is nice to know, in a world where the digital govern, that community is still alive and well. A government only has as much power as its people give it. Over all, this is a very hopeful story. One that asks the question, are you watching?
Sterling, Bruce. “Bicycle Repairman.” Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology. Ed. James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2007. p 3 - 35
I did not think that I would see the day when a Post-Cyberpunk Anthology would emerge out of the wires. Rewired is a pleasant shock. It filled with many good stories. I will review a few here in the upcoming days. However, the bigger question in my mind for this post is how a sub-genre of science fiction, cyberpunk, could evolve into post-cyberpunk, and have I had my head in the sand all this time? Or is all this labeling just non-sense?
Cyberpunk is one of my favorite genres. It focuses on the marginalized anti-hero that has been forced out of society because the anti-hero refuses to accept his or her role in the shiny new world.
Post-cyberpunk was a new term to me that I guess has been around since 1991 that describes what came after cyberpunk. Post-cyberpunk focuses on those same anti-heroes that made cyberpunk cyberpunk. However, these new heroes and heroines more readily accept technology, use technology, and most importantly are not surprised by technology. The same technology that would have new and important is about as shocking as seeing a microwave.
So, I guess I have been writing post-cyberpunk.
If you want to know more about each click cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk, or find a copy of Rewired and read the introduction “Hacking Cyberpunk” by James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel.
Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology. Ed. James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel. San Francisco: Tachyon Publications, 2007.
Yesterday, I spent the day in Fort Dodge, IA with a group of volunteers from Minnesota, canvassing to drum up support for Barack Obama and to make his presence felt in that community. It was very cold and it was easy to fall prey to hopelessness as I was confronted with empty homes and closed doors. However, I took hope from the few that were home that were either undecided, leaning towards Obama, or the few that signed supporter cards and that wanted to attend the January 3rd Caucus.
Obama is very import to me and to the future of this country. As a registered Independent, I rarely agree with any candidate on all the issues. For me the issues take a backseat to a well-laid vision of the future. Obama’s vision of the future is one that I fully back. His message of hope and reform and change is what the United States of America needs right now.
The United States of America has never before looked more like the Holy Roman Empire, flexing its grip on the rest of the world. The Holy Roman Empire, towards the end of its life, was overstretched internationally, trying to keep its enemies at bay, while corruption and despondency infected its citizens.
People need to feel and believe that they can make a difference. If the people believe that their government is their tool for change, then the people will use it. However, past administrations that have not listened to its people have disenfranchised the people. The people do not believe that their government can work for them.
This is why I believe in Obama. Obama is the only candidate that is offering up the government to its people. Obama’s strong history as a grassroots community organizer is just what this county needs. His vision of hope is what this county needs. His authenticity is what this country needs.
However, right now, this country needs you, Obama needs you. Do not let the cold keep you indoors and silent. Make your presence known to your communities. Help others see that though Obama we can take our county back.
Iowa, it starts with you! Fire it up!
Aaron M. Wilson
Planetary Politics by DAVE ITZKOFF
What I don't like about this article, is that it pokes fun at the genre while poking fun at the candidates.
Anyway, it was a fun read. Check it out.
Opportunities to get me one include:
The Colors Combos I like are (in order of preference):
Need something to distract you for a few minutes? Relax and read Needles online at http://www.jensrushing.com/. It is short, about 600 words long according to the author.
It is a strange scene. Have you ever wondered what would happen if some one stuck you with a needle and it allows something crawl out of your body?
Well, what do you mean no?
What I really like about this short-short is that it is a full scene. I could see it as a short film, a Lovecraftian short film.
Okay, you’ve now spent about as much time reading this post as it would take you read his story. So, go read it!
Read it online here: Needles
Rushing, Jens. Needles
“Give it up!” is a great example of his short-short style. It is brief, but it is a fully developed scene, there is something at stake, and there is a resolution. In his case, the resolution is that the main character is still lost. The reader is also left with the sense that the cop is also lost, not that the cop needs directions to get around town, but lost in a more ethereal sense of the word.
I’ve always admired Kafka’s work. He is dark without being sinister.
Read it on line here, Give it up!, it will take less than a minute.
Kafka, Franz. “Give it up!” The Complete Stories. Ed. Nahum N. Glatzer. Tran. Tania & James Stern. New York: Schocken Books, 1983. p. 456
My two cents: It is great.
Right now, I'm reading The World is Flat and Thomas Friedman would say, that this is another way that the playing field is being leveled. I mean, I was just contacted by a small publisher and asked to write a review for them of an upcoming YA novel. Cool! Of course I said yes! I got the title in mail today.
It is my job-dream to become a full-time book publicist. However, in today's market that will most likely never happen. So, I will do it for free (or well, I will do it for free books).
So, How Have Online Book Reviews Affected the Publishing World? Well, for me, it means that I can participate in book culture and have my dream-job as a part-time hobby.
We, us, the very curious humans that live for spectacle, find this miracle in a muddy creek that is mostly dried up. We speculate that she is a she and that she was in hibernation waiting for a flood to wake her. We take her to an aquarium. We study her. We try to teacher her English.
The world wants to see her. We open an exhibit where hundreds of people walk by her tank every day. Soon, groups form, as they always do. There is the group of us that want to continue to study her further, which mean cutting. There is the group of us that want to protect her and love her. There is the group of us that want to set her free.
Time and time again, it seems that when we, humanity, does not understand something, we screw it up. We are like cats. We have to know what is around the corner, even if it kills us, even if we have to kill what is waiting.
You have to read this story!
Conroy, Alicia L. “Mud-colored Beauties of the Plains.” Lives of Mapmakers. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2006. p 11 - 36
Okay. I've seen several 2008 reading challenges emerging on the blogs that I read. Most of them are collected on A Novel Challenge.
I have yet to find one that I'm interested in undertaking. The The Shakespeare Challenge looks good. I'd read his plays and not bios. I'll know in a few days if I'm going to do it.
Anyway, I was thinking about what really mattered to me; what kind of challenge could I issue that I'd also like to take part in. It would have to be a challenge that would help better myself as a writer and a reader.
My wife has been reading a copy of The Art of Attention: A Poet's Eye by Donald Revell. She really likes it. I've read a lot of writing 'How-tos' and 'what-have-yous,' but nothing from this new series.
So, here goes. If you choose to except it, your mission is to read all of the books in The Art of Series that is being put out by Graywolf Press.
I'm going to timeline them in this post and then post a response on the due date for a discussion of the book in comments. This might take more than a year, because some of the titles are still unpublished with no expected date. However, here is how this challenge will get under way:
The Art of Attention: A Poet's Eye by Donald Revell (Read by Feb. 28, 2008)
The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot by Charles Baxter (Read by April. 30, 2008)
Out Dec 26, 2007:
The Art of the Poetic Line by James Longenbach (Read by June. 30, 2008)
The Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again by Sven Birkerts (Read by Aug. 30, 2008)
Planed but not Published Yet:
The Art of Narrative by Howard Norman
The Art of Time in Fiction by Joan Silber
The Art of Description by Mark Doty
The Art of Endings by Amy Bloom
“Abducted Souls” is the story of Cole Glock, a young man early in his college career. Cole is covered in small scars. See, when Cole was young, the classic abduction story, he went missing from his room. All the windows were locked and unbroken, the door to house were locked, no one saw him leave, but Cole went missing and then was found a few days later. Cole remembered nothing.
The doctors found small BB-like spheres, implants, in his body. Implants like those that were showing in up people all over the world. These implants could move and sense danger and if a doctor was lucking enough to pull one from an abductee, it would self destruct. Cole’s scars were from doctors trying to make incisions fast enough to catch the implants.
The magic of this story is in the comparison of Cole’s belief that he is someone special, chosen to carry these alien implants, and the group of Christians on campus who meet for bible study on the weekends and study together throughout the week. Cole’s entire psyche is formed around his belief and doubt that he was abducted as a child. His mother reinforces this though her strange brand of survivors guilt. Doctors tell him and his mother that these objects exist. The rhetoric that Cole had bought into is similar to that of the group of Christians; you are special because the son of God chose to save you.
The third element leading up to the psyche crushing moment at the end of the story is revelation that one of the characters in the story, who also believes in the alien implants, is a schizophrenic who has gone off his medication. Though this character Cole sees first had what it is like to have your core believes shattered. What it can do to a person. How other people treat that person.
More than anything, this story has driven me to wonder what prompted this story. It seems to me, if I can guess that the author’s intent (which is a dangerous business), that Reed was trying to answer this question: What would you do if everything that you believed to be true was false and what you believed to be false was true? If the answer is contained with in these pages, then I would have to assume that it has a lot to do with Cole’s actions after he finds out he has been living a lie. Cole seeks out the one other group of people that he knows believe in something so much that it has helped to formulate their identities, the Christians.
What I really like about this story is Cole’s decision to seek out the Christians at the end. This move seems to call attention to beliefs that these Christians have been spouting though out the story. Ultimately, it begs the question, what would Christians do if they were proved wrong?
Reed, Robert. “Abducted Souls.” The Cuckoo’s Boys. Urbana, IL: Golden Gryphon Press, 2005. p 222 - 253
JULIA’S GIFT by Nina Munteanu
NO FACE by Junot Diaz
THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE by Robert Reed
PROMISE BREAKER by Chris Adrian
JOURNEY INTO CHRISTMAS by Bess Streeter Aldrich
HIS DOG by Ron Hansen
THE GOOGLEPLEX COMES AND GOES by Del Stone Jr.
THE STRANGER by Jessica Fox-Wilson
TEINDS by Sonya Taaffe
LAST RESPECTS by D.K. Thompson
DANIEL by Loren Taylor
Extra (Non-Short Story Reviews)
THE CHARON COVENANT by Brenda Munday Gifford
SNAKES AND ERRINGS by Hitomi Kanehara
PLAINSONG by Kent Haruf, pt. 1
PLAINSONG by Kent Haruf, pt. 2
Extra Extra (Non-reading Reviews)
BONES: The Superhero in the Alley
9 TO 5 NO LONGER