Category Archives: Uncategorized

Short Story Review: What is Eve?

What is Eve? by Will McIntosh appears in the April 2018 issue of Lightspeed Magazine.And before I go farther, spoiler warning: I’m probably going to spoil one reveal or another because A) I *do* want to talk about the story and B) as a person not bothered much by spoilers I sometimes don’t realize I’m spoiling despite my best intentions.

YE BE WARNED.

Now: Lightspeed puts the word count in the header of each story. I like knowing how long of a story I’m getting into, but a mere word count does not tell all. What is Eve? is advertised as being 10,160 words but I’m having a hard time believing it because I read the thing so fast it felt like 3,000.

This story is a smooth read. Smooth like a bobsled chute. It’s straightforward but not overly predictable. It doesn’t present deep complexity with tons of subplot and twisty turns, but the twists and reveals that are there are effective at building the story, advancing it, and keeping it interesting.

It’s an alien story and a first contact story — old ground for sci-fi. Old ground we keep writing on, because it’s so rich. As usual with these stories, you’ll find some themes and tropes repeated. The value, now that the 1930s and 40s are behind us, is in the particulars of the story.

This story, trust me, has some good particulars. It carries the strong morals of “don’t be a dick,” “don’t be a cynical realpolitiker,” “maybe try treating others with respect,” and “bullshitters get cut, bitch.”

There’s a nice dose of “do what feels right” and “the authorities are probably full of shit,” which as I’m a moderate cynic and long-disillusioned idealist, strikes a chord in me.

The main characters are a twelve year old scion of, basically, The Man — a kid already maneuvering for a shot at a good college with parental encouragement, and, second, a ticking time bomb of some strange creature that Lightspeed’s artist represented with what I’m pretty sure is a red snapper face looming out of a purple dress.

And I can’t swear the image isn’t the right one given the story. Like many good alien creatures, the alien is more human than she (?) looks.

But then, aren’t we all more human than we look?

…anyway, give this one a read. You won’t regret it.

 

(This post was published on my Patreon a week before you saw it here. Y’all ought to become patrons. Not only could my kids and I use every spare penny possible given that we live below the poverty line, but you get to read stuff early and get free ebook copies of stuff I publish :))

Advertisements

Generation Ship? You’re Soaking In It.

So I tweeted this in my Tweetmorrow incarnation:

The generation ship is a grand old sci-fi trope. The people on them are always forgetting they’re on one, which seems implausible to me but maybe that’s a subject for a more comprehensive post.

Generation ship yarns are fun and they’re a great walled garden to make stranger, more warped, and more insight-generating societies plausible than would otherwise be possible.

Which is probably why they’re usually depicted as small. Usually a few thousand or even hundred inhabitants.

Good for keeping stories simple. Not for generation-shipping.

For getting somewhere, you want BIG. I haven’t yet written a story around a jumbo generation ship, but I’ve mused and tweeted about it often enough. Hollow out Ceres. Take the Moon. Slap some magictech thrusters on Earth. From the sounds of it we could heat the surface with geothermal taps and keep it up for millions of years in the absence of a warming Sun.

I’m sure we could have Earth basking under a new star in five or ten thousand years. Not bad, really.

Wouldn’t it be funny if Earth ended up running away from the Solar System? We always imagine ships traveling from Earth, not BEING Earth.

Happy Holidays, Whole Family Edition

No matter what this time of year means to you, we all hope it and the new year to come finds you well and happy and lucky, too.

Bioasis

If you haven’t already seen it, the largest grasshopper I have seen in the city in many years is perched on the brown cattail in the foreground. On what the “let’s spite the liberals by pooping where we eat” crowd would call a ‘hippie-dippy waste of money,’ a patch of wetland the size of a small above-ground swimming pool nestled between parking lots of a local hospital along a rainwater drainage path.

Yep, it probably cost a few bucks to put it there and costs a few to maintain it.

Well, we’re creatures of nature and it does us good to see a little soft, verdant goodness among the hard, uncaring glass and stone and steel. Humans do not live by asphalt alone, nor should they.

I wish we had many more of those little biological oases in the city.

Thrift Stores: A Geek’s Best Friend

You never know, for example, when you’ll find cool superhero costumes with foam muscles for 3 bucks apiece 😁

When You’re Too Lazy To Make Toast… 

… you make a cheese and egg noodles omelet so the carbohydrate is built into your breakfast. The topping is parmesan, smoked paprika, and celery salt. 

Next Time I Plant Chayote… 

…it won’t be next to a tree. And it’ll be in a 30 gallon pot, not a 3 gallon pot.

I planted the thing on a whim because it sprouted in the vegetable basket after I bought it at the store & forgot to eat it for a week or so. When it reached for the tree I decided to look up its growing habits online.

It will probably grow few or no chayote in this little pot. We probably won’t find out until Septemberish when/if it flowers. 

That’s how garden adventures go. 

Dear Jeff Sessions 

… because of the person sentenced to a year in jail for laughing at him. Really. 

The American Dream, All New For The Tricentennial — SciFi News Network 2076

fireworks-1708483-pixabay-cc0-pubdom.jpg

 

Omniews Printernet Corporation

Staff

June 3, 2076

Omimerica Holdings is bringing you a bold new twist on the American Dream for the Tricentennial! Recent polls show that more Americans than ever before believe their leaders aren’t listening. The people who govern us aren’t accountable! They tell lies to get elected, break their promises as soon as they’re made, and get re-elected anyway.

By the time they choose to retire they’re a hundred times richer than when they got there — and you paid for it!

No more. Thanks to Omnimerica.

Omnimerica’s domination of the business world in every field has placed us in a unique position in history. Once, companies and citizens were at the mercy of the politicians. Sixty years ago, that began to change. For the first time ever, a global business concern (today a division of Omnimerica) and political office merged in the single person of the President of the United States. The people accepted it. The politicians accepted it. Our world, slowly, began to change. This year, that change is complete.

Today, an overwhelming majority of politicians at every level of government are involved with Omnimerica. They’re our board members, our executives, our division and holding heads, our consultants, and the customers of our worldwide supply chain.

So we’re taking action.

We’re changing everything. For the better.

Your voice will no longer be limited to voting for the lesser of two evils. You’ll vote every single day if you want! You can vote on every single issue, join the debate with your comments, reactions, and memes, and shape the policies of the United States AS THEY DEVELOP.

Never again will your voice go unheard. Omnimeria’s We The People is your destination to connect with family, friends, and the vital issues that matter to you. With a fast-moving timeline, fun games, an automatic entry in the billion-dollar Omnimerica Lottery with every post, and an advanced participation algorithm that could propel your words direct to the timeline of your local officials, the President of the United States, or even the Omnimerica Board of Directors, there’s so much to love that you’ll never fail to do your civic duty — or should we say, civic PLEASURE — ever again!

We The People is open for business in limited-participation mode right now. If you’re a US citizen, you already have an account! Log in with your SSN, birthdate, and a scan of your Citizenship Chip.

Government by the people begins on the day of the Tricentennial — log in at 12:01 PM PST on July 4th to cast your very first votes. You’ll be choosing the contestants for Dance Across the States, airing on Omnimusical 2 every Tuesday and Friday for thirteen weeks following the week of the Tricentennial. The winners will perform at ceremonies for thirty-five change of office ceremonies for mayors and governors slated for replacement by order of the Board of Directors.

Out with the old, and in with the NEW AMERICAN DREAM!

 

 

Dare to Discuss Time: Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon

2017-jan-dare-to-discuss-lagoon

Here gather some reviewers and/or writers — AND YOU IF YOU’D LIKE TO JOIN IN — to discuss a book. We do it every couple of months, so pay attention if you like reading things. Since you’re here, I think you do.

This time, we’re talking about Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon (not an affiliate link, if it matters to you) in the comments section below. I’m going to talk about it here a little bit first, and my fellow participants have written their own thoughts/reviews on it at Sci-Fi and Scary, The Scary Reviews, Michael Patrick Hicks dot com,  and Dave’s (David Dubrow’s) Blog.

I suggested we read it, and from what I’ve heard they mostly sort of enjoyed it but saw some pretty serious problems with it, giving it two or three stars out of five.

So I might not get to recommend new fiction for us to talk about for a while. We’ll see how forgiving they are.

Don’t take the previous two sentences too seriously 🙂

Nnedi Okorafor has a few words to say about Lagoon as well, on her Wahala Zone Blog. They’re worth reading. “I admit (and don’t apologize for) the fact that my flavor of scifi is evenly Naijamerican (note: “Naija” is slang for Nigeria or Nigerian.),” she writes.

If you’re personally acquainted with the cultural context her writing speaks for/to/of/with, or even have enjoyed reading some Afrofuturism in the past (that’s my case), you may find Okorafor’s work more easily accessible than if your experience is otherwise.

On the other hand, to hell with accessibility. Variety is the spice of life and all that.

My impressions of the book:

Some folk have been bugged by the extensive use of dialog in Pidgin English. I wasn’t, but then I’ve read through A Clockwork Orange so…

A Clockwork Orange is full of this sort of thing.png

…the Pidgin didn’t bother me for reasons you might guess. Others found it distracting. Personal taste.

I enjoyed reading Lagoon. I wanted to love it as much as I loved reading Binti and Akata Witch and a few of Okorafor’s short stories I’ve stumbled across. But I couldn’t quite.

It felt, to me, like the ideas of two or even three books stuffed into the skin of a single book. If it were a sausage, I’d say the richness overwhelmed the flavor. But I’m glad I ate it, and the experience was positive and memorable, even if I had to take a break in the middle and let everything settle for a while. Which I did. I put Lagoon down about 2/3 through and read a short story anthology, then came back to finish it.

Nnedi seems to have her plate full of writing for the forseeable future so I’m not holding my breath for a return to Lagoon. But if a sequel showed up, I’d love to see what she does with that crammed-full-of-interesting-things world.