Monthly Archives: February 2010

DayBreak Fiction: “A Thousand Trains Out of Here”, v2

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A Thousand Trains Out of Here

Paul Evanby

Hey: I’m both happy and proud to present a Dutch writer — a compatriot — on this (supposedly) international stage. I think it’s healthy that English-language SF is increasingly (even if still somewhat slowly) opening up to non-Anglophone writers. In general, I think greater diversity is a good thing.

Atypically, Paul is not among the modern creed of speculative fiction writers who keep the day job for financial security and write for pleasure or for the soul (or both) in their spare time: no, he quit his job to get more writing done. Then — as he told me at the last semi-irregular meet-ups we have with Jurgen Snoeren and Floris Kleijne — his previous employer(s) kept bothering him with requests to work on several IT projects (obviously, his expertise is in demand, and I’m trying to use it for make an iPhone app. of his own story).

No rest for the wicked, as the saying goes.

A saying that is perfectly applicable to “A Thousand Trains Out of Here”, where Jaouad — the main character — tries, very hard, to get at least one certain aspect of his overworked (yet fairly exciting) life in order. To use another saying: should you ‘be careful what you wish for’, or not?

There was always the sudden brightness in their eyes: the lighting up of their faces which was actually, Jaouad thought, a kind of hidden, inverted form of racism. Racism, and thus self-hatred. But they were never aware. How could they be? Moroccan-targeted xenophobia was simply not done. Not in the Netherlands: one does not, after all, bite the hand that feeds.

The blonde girl behind the counter smiled at him as he waved his hand in front of the credit reader. No careful positioning of his fingers over the sensor for him: his implants were always first-class, and registered immediately.

The girl noticed it too, of course, and her starry-eyed “Enjoy your lunch” sounded that much more breathless for it. Continue reading

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DayBreak Fiction: “A Thousand Trains Out of Here”

Share/BookmarkDownload files of the story:Download PDF version of the story!Download WORD version of the story!

A Thousand Trains Out of Here

Paul Evanby

Hey: I’m both happy and proud to present a Dutch writer — a compatriot — on this (supposedly) international stage. I think it’s healthy that English-language SF is increasingly (even if still somewhat slowly) opening up to non-Anglophone writers. In general, I think greater diversity is a good thing.

Atypically, Paul is not among the modern creed of speculative fiction writers who keep the day job for financial security and write for pleasure or for the soul (or both) in their spare time: no, he quit his job to get more writing done. Then — as he told me at the last semi-irregular meet-ups we have with Jurgen Snoeren and Floris Kleijne — his previous employer(s) kept bothering him with requests to work on several IT projects (obviously, his expertise is in demand, and I’m trying to use it for make an iPhone app. of his own story).

No rest for the wicked, as the saying goes.

A saying that is perfectly applicable to “A Thousand Trains Out of Here”, where Jaouad — the main character — tries, very hard, to get at least one certain aspect of his overworked (yet fairly exciting) life in order. To use another saying: should you ‘be careful what you wish for’, or not?

There was always the sudden brightness in their eyes: the lighting up of their faces which was actually, Jaouad thought, a kind of hidden, inverted form of racism. Racism, and thus self-hatred. But they were never aware. How could they be? Moroccan-targeted xenophobia was simply not done. Not in the Netherlands: one does not, after all, bite the hand that feeds.

The blonde girl behind the counter smiled at him as he waved his hand in front of the credit reader. No careful positioning of his fingers over the sensor for him: his implants were always first-class, and registered immediately.

The girl noticed it too, of course, and her starry-eyed “Enjoy your lunch” sounded that much more breathless for it. Continue reading

December @outshine prose poems—Inspiring

December 2:

The jay didn’t smile as he stole the seed.
The woman didn’t perceive his grief until she had cast the stone.
Her regret would heal the rift.

[Bio] Jodi: I don’t know who she is except lost in her thoughts and found in her writing.

December 9:

He became an artist, sculpting electron shells into elements across the periodic table, converting concrete suburbs to jeweled dreamscapes.

[Bio] @MattAlbertson is a Seattle geek who enjoys splicing his fiction with cutting edge technology. http://www.mattalbertson.com/ .

December 16:

Over his brutish shoulder I got a glimpse of her tortured face as he hauled Liberty into the darkness. “I’ll be back,” she mouthed to me.

[Bio] Susan is a freelance writer and children’s playwright from upstate New York.

December 23:

quaking aspen:
myriad blinking eyes
witness the dawn

[Bio] When she’s not chasing her kids or writing about science, Julie Bloss Kelsey enjoys staring at trees. Visit her online @MamaJoules .

December 30:

Taking recycled cargo boxes through clouds
up the well-worn space elevator’s heights
foam swords, deodorant, and I grow warm.

[Bio] K.M. Praschak writes & sometimes looks up at http://is.gd/4Woub- .

SHINE excerpt: “Twittering the Stars”

Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the eighth one: “Twittering the Stars” by Mari Ness:

Note 1: Indeed, it’s a story told completely in tweets, and like the Twitter website, the most recent tweets show up on top. Yet, “Twittering the Stars” is written in such a way that you can read it in either direction (from top to bottom or vice-versa) and it still works beautifully.

Note 2: Our current astonauts are already using Twitter, sending twitpics from the International Space Station (via BoingBoing; via io9) from astronauts Jose Hernandez (@Astro_Jose) and Souichi Noguchi (@Astr_Soichi), who are both on Twitter. Simply breathtaking, indeed!

Note 3: when I was thinking about a name for the online magazine accompanying the Shine anthology, ‘Dawn’ immediately came to mind, but eventually I figured ‘DayBreak’ worked a bit better. I wasn’t aware of the ‘Dawn’ spacecraft concept — pictured below the excerpt — that NASA was (is?) developing for solar system exploration.

@the28thkarenbear Well, being the sweetest out of 6 doesn’t mean much.
6:54 pm March 13th, 2052 from distweet in reply to the28thkarenbear

@the28thkarenbear AWW. You are the sweetest person on the planet.
5:23 pm March 11th, 2052 from distweet in reply to the28thkarenbear

I probably could concoct some alcoholic thing from my plants, but probably not the best idea.
1:19 pm March 10th, 2052 from distweet

Still, if you’re reading this, please respond. Just so that I don’t feel so alone.
10:42 am March 8th, 2052 from distweet

Right. Keep forgetting that it now takes hours for my tweets to reach you and hours for you to respond.
10:42 am March 8th, 2052 from distweet

Is anybody reading this? Anybody?
7:18 pm March 7th, 2052 from distweet

I wish all of you could see this with me.
3:01 am February 26th, 2052 from distweet

Slightly upsetting to realize that a supernova is much brighter than Earth, but it’s so beautiful.
5:18 pm February 23rd, 2052 from distweet

We’re watching the Betelgeuse supernova too. It’s—I can’t tell you how spectacular it is from here. Only the sun is brighter.
5:16 pm February 23rd, 2052 from distweet

To make up for it, A had pictures of little red envelopes on our hand screens, that exploded into fireworks when we thumbed over them.
8:03 pm January 23rd, 2052 from distweet

A celebrated Chinese New Year today by opening every door on the ship. I think she just wanted to catch T naked.
8:02 pm January 23rd, 2052 from distweet

Sorry for the long silence. Just finding that I don’t have much to say. I’m caught in the silence of stars.
4:02 pm October 12th, 2051 from distweet

@frogheart29 My first niece! Congratulations! I wish I could hold her. Show her pictures of me for me, will ya?
7:43 pm May 17th, 2051 from distweet in reply to frogheart29

And when the plants are growing, they’re growing in weird directions.
12:49 pm May 5th, 2051

@loucheroo Oh, we’re fine for food even without the garden. I just miss biting into a real tomato, you know?
12:42 pm May 5th, 2051 from distweet

I think the plants know we’re leaving the sun.
10:31 am May 4th, 2051 from distweet

The garden isn’t producing as much as expected. We should have everything—real soil, water, fertilizer, robot pollinators—
10:31 am May 4th, 2051 from distweet

I keep finding myself looking out the portholes in the gardens and labs and in our living area, and wanting to sing to the stars.
6:02 pm April 23rd, 2051 from distweet

Trying to figure out how K passed the psych tests to get on here. I know, double PhD, quan comp/eng, 8 years Chinese Air Force. Still.
3:22 am March 27th, 2051 from distweet

Ok, our worst mistake? Letting R bring along his horror film collection. In space no one can hear you scream. Yeah, right.
4:06 am March 7th, 2051 from distweet

I say I keep everyone breathing.
10:13 pm February 26th, 2051 from distweet

T says he keeps everyone alive. Not that anyone’s needed a doctor yet, and we haven’t seen him do anything else except watch the stars.
10:12 pm February 26th, 2051 from distweet

A says she’s the only one with mission for the entire trip. The rest of us stop after we mine the iridium/lithium.
10:12 pm February 26th, 2051 from distweet

K and R say they are piloting the ship. Without them, no iridium/lithium.
10:11 pm February 26th, 2051 from distweet

Major fight broke out over who has the most important job on the ship. M says lithium entire point of trip.
10:11 pm February 26th, 2051 from distweet

Sigh. SOME people have no idea how to share living quarters. You’d think a doctor of all people would be less of a slob.
8:11 pm January 24th, 2051 from distweet

Excerpt from “Twittering the Stars” by Mari Ness. Copyright © 2010 by Mari Ness.

Picture credits:

Mari Ness lives in central Florida, and likes to watch space shuttles and rockets leap into the sky. Her work has previously appeared in numerous print and online venues, including Fantasy Magazine, Hub Fiction and Farrago’s Wainscot. She’s still hoping to spend time in a space station some day.

Also, check out the exclusive interview Charles A. Tan with her at SF Signal.

Review Quotes:

I started reading the story from the beginning… then realised that it’s written in the present and what I really should do is start at the end of the story and read forward! Make sense? (It will if you tweet yourself) And I loved it. Cleverly constructed, the author manages to tell a heartbreaking story across the time period of four years. We see the main character go from an over-excited and slightly egotistical botanist going on a space mission to a deeply thoughtful, sad and very humane being. A very clever piece of writing and one I’d recommend.

SF Revu;

One of the most original stories I’ve read in years is Twittering the Stars by Mari Ness, which is constructed entirely of tweets (messages of 140 characters or less) and tells the story of a deep space crew mining lithium and iridium – and a discovery that will change them all forever.

Explorations: the Barnes & Noble SciFi and Fantasy Blog;

and my personal favourite, Twittering the Stars by Mari Ness: an account of a space expedition, told as a series of tweets.

Twittering the Stars really made me think about how we tell our stories.

Catherine Hughes;

In the case of Mari Ness’ Twittering the Stars, the literary constraint is structural. What could have been little more than a gimmicky format (the clue is in the name) is used to break a tale of unlucky asteroid miners into pithy, revealing chunks that comprise a grippingly personal narrative.

New Scientist;

Mari Ness offers a formally challenging tale of an astronaut gardener’s tweets, and the messages are even presented in reverse chronological order, which makes for an evocative experience. “Discussion over what to do with T’s body” is just one of many powerful lines, but the story is hurt by an uninspired little fart of a title: Twittering in Space.

(Editor’s note: actual title is Twittering the Stars.)

SciFi Wire;

Twittering the Stars by Mari Ness could be interpreted as gimmicky due to its use of the Twitter format but Ness makes the most out of her medium. The story immediately engulfs you in the drama and wins you over to the protagonist’s side. What’s deceptive about the piece is that it’s quite lengthy but because Ness uses Tweets, it doesn’t feel overbearing. Another bonus is that the story could be read in reverse order and would still be just as relevant.

Charles A. Tan;

A second story I want to mention is Twittering the Stars by Mari Ness. De Vries is apparently a big fan Twitter. He mentions the medium a number of times in the introductions to the various stories. I’m not a great fan my self, I will sacrifice knowing things now to knowing them in a bit more detail at a time of my own choosing but you can’t deny it’s popularity. Ness wrote a story that is completely conveyed in the form of Tweets and starts with the newest message at the top. The story is that of a space ship returning to earth after visiting the asteroid belt. Clearly something has going wrong en route and we gradually work our way back to the point where we find out what. This story can be read in the reverse order as well and that makes it pretty unusual. It’s a very interesting and quite succesfull experiment in using such a new medium for literary purposes.

Val’s Random Comments;

The one story I disliked immensely for its twitter format; for me this kind of short paragraphs interspersed with the twitter paraphernalia is annoying in the extreme; otherwise the content seemed interesting enough with a space expedition and some biology experiments, but I just hate fiction formatted like that…

Fantasy Book Critic;

An interactive map of SHINE anthology story locations:

US:Buy SHINE at Amazon.com! Buy SHINE at Barnes & Noble! Buy SHINE at Borders!Buy SHINE at Powell's Books!

UK:Buy SHINE at Amazon UK! Buy SHINE at WH Smith!Buy SHINE at Waterstone's! Buy SHINE at the Book Depository!

Independents:Buy SHINE at the IndieBound!Buy SHINE at Books-A-Million!Order SHINE via Goodreads!

Canada:Buy SHINE at Amazon Canada!Germany:Buy SHINE at Amazon Deutschland!India: Order SHINE at Flipkart!

SHINE excerpts: “The Solnet Ascendancy”

Every first and third Friday of the month there will be two story excerpts from the Shine anthology. This is the seventh one: “The Solnet Ascendancy” by Lavie Tidhar:

1

It began, the way these things usually begin, with a Proposal.

This is Vanuatu. A Y-shaped archipelago of islands somewhere in the nowhere, South Pacific Ocean, home to Michener’s mythical Bali Rai, coconut plantations, coconut crabs, a few World War II downed planes, a sunken troop-carrier, volcanoes and coral reefs: its Internet domain suffix is .vu, its capital is the distant Port Vila, described by residents and visitors alike as a slightly dodgy Australian resort town, and known by the wider electronic world primarily for not having certain kinds of laws which make placing off-shore servers there profitable. There is a foreign volunteer for every thousand people on the islands, making Vanuatu the most volunteer-intensive country in the world. Welcome to Vanuatu! AusAid, Peace Corps, VSO, VSA, CUSO, JICA; EU, the Australian High Commission, the Alliance française, the Chinese, the Taiwanese, the Japanese, only the Arabs and the Israelis have so far forsaken Vanuatu – what is the nature of your project? What benefit does it have to the community? What is the amount of community buy-in? Please specify expected outcome and sustainability. How much do you need? What sort of materials?

It began, the way things in Sola usually begin, if they are to begin at all, in the Market House.

10

“I want e-mail,” Fatfat Freddie says. When he speaks English he has a slight Australian accent, a remnant of his four years at university on the continent, where he did tourism and hotel management. “I want to use the Internet. Can’t you do something?”

His companion is a waetman; the local most recent volunteer; Mike Rowe by name, pale despite the fierce glare of the sun, digging into the local chicken and rice without enthusiasm.

“If only they could actually cook,” he says. Fatfat Freddie nods and shovels rice into his mouth. There are three bony pieces of chicken on Mike Rowe’s plate, sitting lonely and forlorn on a mountain of rice. He pushes the rice with his fork and says, “You could set up a local e-mail network fairly easily.”

“Really?”

“Sure. Get a wireless router, a few wireless receivers, and a server. That might be the expensive bit, but…” he sinks into thought. “If you use an existing PC you won’t even have that expense. Run it on the Province’s generator… I reckon you could cover all the adjacent offices as well. Triangulate.”

The Province’s office sits in the midst of a cluster of offices—the entire administrative centre for Torba Province, encompassing the Banks and Torres Islands, thirteen islands, ten thousand people, eleven phones—and it is in wireless range of the following departments, being: Health, Education, Customs, Police, Court, Bank, Post Office. “Then, we can hook up the server to a phone line, get an Internet account, get it to send and receive e-mail once or twice a week. Turn it into an Internet gateway. Once you do this, once everything is in place, you can add users to the network at no cost, and charge them a membership fee. Piece of piss.”

Kan,” Freddie says in Bislama, which is very rude. “Then why don’t we do it?”

“Who’s going to pay for it?” Mike Rowe says, and makes the money sign. He pushes his plate—still half-full with rice—away and lights a cigarette instead.

“We can arrange that,” Freddie says. “The EU— ”

“—couldn’t find their ass if they sat on it,” Mike Rowe, twenty-three, cynical man of the world, says with feeling.

Fatfat Freddie smiles. “Let me worry about that,” he says. “Just write the proposal.”

Mike shrugs and waves his cigarette in the air, trailing smoke. “I’ll do it right now if you want to. Go back to the office?”

“Let’s,” Freddie says. He pushes his empty plate away and belches. “I’m finished.”

They go.

11

There is one road in Sola, a long wide track following the shore line, stretching from the little airport, across the Arep School, past shops and the Market House, past the Province office and the rest of the administrative buildings, past the wharf and the football field. As Freddie and his companion walk down it (slowly, for Freddie considers each step carefully before executing it, and when he speaks he stops to rest) they do not yet know that it is towards the future that they are walking.

Excerpt from “The Solnet Ascendancy” by Lavie Tidhar. Copyright © 2010 by Lavie Tidhar.

Picture credits:

Lavie Tidhar is the author of linked-story collection HebrewPunk (2007), novellas Cloud Permutations (2009), An Occupation of Angels (2010), and Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God (2010) and, with Nir Yaniv, of The Tel Aviv Dossier (2009). He also edited the anthology The Apex Book of World SF (2009). He’s lived on three continents and one island-nation, and currently lives in Israel. His first novel, The Bookman, is published by HarperCollins’ new Angry Robot imprint, and will be followed by two more.

Also, check out the exclusive interview Charles A. Tan did with him at SF Signal.

Review Quotes:

Lavie Tidhar’s The Solnet Ascendancy… what can I say? The guy is bloody brilliant. It’s not a large offering but it’s a story told with impact. It centres around how quickly and easily and with what devastating effect the redistribution of the future (you’ll understand it later) has when it occurs at an accelerated rate in a small backwater. It’s reading stories like Lavie’s that cause you look at technology and progress with caution.

SF Revu;

Perhaps the most memorable is Lavie Tidhar’s The Solnet Ascendancy, which describes how the miniscule Pacific island of Vanuatu transforms itself into an information superpower.

New Scientist;

[…] a fair number of them do a credible job of successfully balancing drama and optimism without sacrificing cultural complexity. The stories here that probably do the best job with this complex balancing act are The Solnet Ascendancy by Lavie Tidhar, Sarging Rasmussen: A Report by Organic by Gord Sellar, and The Earth of Yunhe by Eric Gregory.

—Garner Dozois in the April Locus Magazine;

Lavie Tidhar makes a welcome appearance with The Solnet Ascendancy, a humorous story set on remote Vanuatu. It’s a brilliant little story that returns intermittently to see the unfeasible progress made as technology becomes available and local ingenuity puts it to good use. It’s a refreshingly different location for a story and makes for an enjoyable pleasant read.

SF Crowsnest;

The Solnet Ascendancy by Lavie Tidhar is a concise, witty and high impact offering that lures the reader into a thought experiment on the redistribution of the future. It also considers the risks and possibilities of the imaginative exploitation of second-hand technology.

—Interzone;

Despite this, the stories in the anthology show considerable variety. Some are Trickster parables. Lavie Tidhar’s The Solnet Ascendancy neatly reverses the cargo cult scenario, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Seeds describes the perfect blowback, while Alastair Reynolds’ At Budokan updates the impresario concept with panache.

The Huffington Post;

The state is viewed with suspicion, while the market moves so quickly that malevolent corporations die off with a minimum of fuss. China, Brazil, tiny Vanuatu all have powerful roles in a post-superpower future.

SciFi Wire;

The Solnet Ascendancy by Lavie Tidhar and Seeds by Silva Moreno-Garcia are, for the most part, trickster stories, but they work within the context of the theme.

Charles A. Tan;

An interactive map of SHINE story locations:

US:Buy SHINE at Amazon.com! Buy SHINE at Barnes & Noble! Buy SHINE at Borders!Buy SHINE at Powell's Books!

UK:Buy SHINE at Amazon UK! Buy SHINE at WH Smith!Buy SHINE at Waterstone's! Buy SHINE at the Book Depository!

ELECTRONIC:Buy SHINE at MobiPocket!Buy SHINE at Amazon Kindle!Buy SHINE at MobiPocket!

Independents:Buy SHINE at the IndieBound!Buy SHINE at Books-A-Million!Order SHINE via Goodreads!Order SHINE via Pick-a-Book!

November @outshine prose poems—humourus

November 7:

It was spring and his basement was drying up. Last night, just two feet of water on the floor. A man can’t even stay wet in his own home…

[Bio] Marlo Dianne is a writer/artist of more than fifty published works. This wondergeek is found @ http://www.forbiddendragon.blogspot.com.

November 14:

I’d never felt so close to a pet, never felt the need to boast about a pet, and I’m not even fully dilated yet… can you see her head?

[Bio] Engineerish writer lost near Austin.

November 21:

News from CERN: smallest subatomic particles found, massless, information only. + & –: binary code. Neat. I yawned, returned to my Sims game

[Bio] William Clunie can be read at http://www.pemmicanpress.com/.

November 28:

Starship Magellan to Mission Control on Pluto: If angels are in the architecture, how do we get this one out of our FTL drive?

[Bio] Paula R. Stiles, at: http://is.gd/kLAu, has sold SF, fantasy and horror stories to Strange Horizons, Jim Baen’s, Futures and others.

DayBreak Fiction: “Riding in Mexico”, v2

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RIDING IN MEXICO

 

 Brenda Cooper

 

Brenda Cooper is — among many other things — a futurist with an upbeat vision (and I especially agree that we need more education, and more clean water), even when she does a talk for the US army. Quite often, when I mention the term ‘optimistic SF’, a lot of people immediately interpret it as a kind of über-Utopia, an idealised future where things are so close to perfection people die of boredom. Brenda, though, immediately sees ‘optimistic SF’ as a complex and interesting future, where some of today’s problems are being addressed while new challenges arise. This is the kind of future I have in mind when I’m looking for stories for Shine, DayBreak Magazine and even @outshine.

When reading Brenda’s fiction and non-fiction, and especially after meeting her at the last World Fantasy Convention in San José, I got the impression of an well-travelled lady who hadn’t let the inevitable scars — physical and/or emotional — of bad experiences in the past mar her vision of a doable future. (And also one of the growing numbers of writers — and other people involved with writing and/or publishing — who don’t quit the day job and do all the crazy SF stuff when they have the time, meaning they’re extremely busy all the time.)

This mixture of a certain youthful élan (which one can have at any age, and can easily be mistaken for naïveté) with a more adult trepidation is what also drives Isa — the main character in “Riding in Mexico” — and while her host Valeria (the Mexican girl being ‘ridden’) seems to have more of the latter than the former, both women need to come to grips with the fact that sometimes in a grim situation one needs tough measurements…

My host, Valeria, barely noticed the Mexican sun sparkle on the Caribbean, gold on brilliant blue. The salt scents of the sea and her sweat sat thick in my head, laid over with unfamiliar flowers, and a trace of animal — pig? She barely reacted to heat that made it hard for me to breathe. Her right knee sent shooting pains up her back whenever she stepped on an uneven patch that turned her foot inward. A chronic injury? She didn’t let the pain slow her. She turned from time to time, looking back over her shoulder. The thick wooden handle of a machete rode loosely in her fingers, like I might carry my car keys or all-in-one, like part of her. We rode host’s senses, not feelings, not true emotions. That’s what they told me, anyway. But right now, I felt her. I felt what she felt. I knew she was frightened of whatever it was she kept turning to look for, frightened of something or someone who could leap out of the jungle at her.

I had been told that it would be hard to ride a far-host, but no words had told me how foreign another woman in another place could smell and move and even see. And yet how close she would be to me, how much I felt like she and I walked through the heat and the thick scent of green and rot and dust all together.

I faded slowly away from Valeria’s senses, trading the Mexican Riviera for the plastic chairs and scuffed tile of a small classroom on the University of Washington campus. For the first few breaths I felt as if I were still in Valeria as well as in me, Isa. Continue reading