Category Archives: Fiction

DayBreak Fiction: “Dalí’s Clocks”, v2

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Dalí’s Clocks

Dave Hutchinson

I met Dave back in 2005 at the Interaction WorldCon in Glasgow. He was hanging around with what I will call — for lack of a better term — the ‘Chris Roberson’ gang and as we discussed several things over drinks he gave me a copy of As the Crow Flies, which I found was full of great stories.

Last year, I was quite chuffed when Ian Whates asked me to write an intro to Dave’s novella “The Push” (recently released via Newcon Press), but unfortunately the economics of sending signing sheets across the pond were prohibitive. So while Eric Brown took that honour, I’ll give a short appreciation of Dave here.

When I read As the Crow Flies and The Villages, I had the impression of Dave being a quintessential British writer, and I mean that in a very good way. British in the sense of observing something out of the ordinary, and instead of being appalled, rather being fascinated with it. Even if the extraordinary goes to extremes like “The Pavement Artist” or “The Trauma Jockey”.

Quite unlike the typical Dutch (and Australian) ‘tall puppy syndrome’, Dave displays, instead of a ‘sense of fear’, rather a ‘sense of wonder’ at the strange encounters crossing his path. It is British in the sense that he is not only very tolerant of the village eccentric, but also genuinly interested in that person.

That impression, that of Dave as the quintessential Brit, proved not to be totally accurate, as he sent me a very European story: while initially set in Gdansk, the story moves to Belgium, Italy and basically all of Europe. “Dalí’s Clocks” is, like “The Gender Plague”, about an engineered virus on a rampage. While the symptoms of this are very different than those in KD Wentworth’s story (and while both have their tongue firmly in cheek, a serious undercurrent runs through them, as well), the overall effect seems to be going in a similar direction…

(NB: special thanks to Susan Garvie for letting me use the image of her ‘Confused Cat’!)

I was living in Gdansk back then, in a newish block of flats overlooking the Warta just outside the Old Town. In the mornings I could sit on my balcony and eat breakfast while the fake pirate boats took tourists downriver to take photographs of the old fortifications at Westerplatte. Evenings, I could wander through Hanseatic splendour, take my pick of hundreds of remarkably fine restaurants, cross the river to the concert hall to attend a performance by the Baltic Philharmonic, visit art galleries, catch a film. Good times, and I took it all for granted.

These days, I don’t really live anywhere. Or rather, I seem to live everywhere. In every town I visit, every city, every one-horse hamlet, a welcome is waiting for me. Hotels throw their doors open to me, private citizens unroll the red carpet. I haven’t had to pay for a meal or a night’s lodging in almost eight years. The clothes I wear, the car I drive, the cigarettes I smoke and the beer I drink are all gifts, pressed on me by a populace either eager to curry favour or to express its gratitude. You’d think it would become wearying, but you’d be wrong; there is nothing in this world better than never having to pay for anything ever again. And trust me, having people hanging on your every word, your every opinion, never ever gets old.

On the other hand, I’m on the road all the time. I have no choice. If I didn’t go to them, they would come to me, and that would become wearying. Continue reading

DayBreak Fiction: “Dalí’s Clocks”

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Dalí’s Clocks

Dave Hutchinson

I met Dave back in 2005 at the Interaction WorldCon in Glasgow. He was hanging around with what I will call — for lack of a better term — the ‘Chris Roberson’ gang and as we discussed several things over drinks he gave me a copy of As the Crow Flies, which I found was full of great stories.

Last year, I was quite chuffed when Ian Whates asked me to write an intro to Dave’s novella “The Push” (recently released via Newcon Press), but unfortunately the economics of sending signing sheets across the pond were prohibitive. So while Eric Brown took that honour, I’ll give a short appreciation of Dave here.

When I read As the Crow Flies and The Villages,  I had the impression of Dave being a quintessential British writer, and I mean that in a very good way. British in the sense of observing something out of the ordinary, and instead of being appalled, rather being fascinated with it. Even if the extraordinary goes to extremes like “The Pavement Artist” or “The Trauma Jockey”.

Quite unlike the typical Dutch (and Australian) ‘tall puppy syndrome’, Dave displays, instead of a ‘sense of fear’, rather a ‘sense of wonder’ at the strange encounters crossing his path. It is British in the sense that he is not only very tolerant of the village eccentric, but also genuinly interested in that person.

That impression, that of Dave as the quintessential Brit, proved not to be totally accurate, as he sent me a very European story: while initially set in Gdansk, the story moves to Belgium, Italy and basically all of Europe. “Dalí’s Clocks” is, like “The Gender Plague”, about an engineered virus on a rampage. While the symptoms of this are very different than those in KD Wentworth’s story (and while both have their tongue firmly in cheek, a serious undercurrent runs through them, as well), the overall effect seems to be going in a similar direction…

(NB: special thanks to Susan Garvie for letting me use the image of her ‘Confused Cat’!)

I was living in Gdansk back then, in a newish block of flats overlooking the Warta just outside the Old Town. In the mornings I could sit on my balcony and eat breakfast while the fake pirate boats took tourists downriver to take photographs of the old fortifications at Westerplatte. Evenings, I could wander through Hanseatic splendour, take my pick of hundreds of remarkably fine restaurants, cross the river to the concert hall to attend a performance by the Baltic Philharmonic, visit art galleries, catch a film. Good times, and I took it all for granted.

These days, I don’t really live anywhere. Or rather, I seem to live everywhere. In every town I visit, every city, every one-horse hamlet, a welcome is waiting for me. Hotels throw their doors open to me, private citizens unroll the red carpet. I haven’t had to pay for a meal or a night’s lodging in almost eight years. The clothes I wear, the car I drive, the cigarettes I smoke and the beer I drink are all gifts, pressed on me by a populace either eager to curry favour or to express its gratitude. You’d think it would become wearying, but you’d be wrong; there is nothing in this world better than never having to pay for anything ever again. And trust me, having people hanging on your every word, your every opinion, never ever gets old.

On the other hand, I’m on the road all the time. I have no choice. If I didn’t go to them, they would come to me, and that would become wearying. Continue reading

DayBreak Fiction: “She’s All Light”, v2

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She’s All Light

LaShawn M. Wanak

 

Inevitably oneas an editorwill often get several stories using the same concept (and possibly even more so when one edits a themed anthology). Yet, as the saying goes: ‘it’s not the idea (or concept) that counts, but what you do with it.’ This is almost literally so with personality uploads: if (some would say when) they work: what are we going to do with them? In “Fembot” the military application has some surprisiingly humane consequences, while here in “She’s All Light” our protagonist questions the humane consequences of the commercial application.

Also, the story, like life itself, is full of paradoxes. For one: the more connected we are, the more self-centred we seem to become: the idea being that the world should not come closer to you, but you should come closer to the world.

Another paradox: as the real world becomes more enhanced, and the virtual world becomes more real, one would expect that the transition between the two would be easier. But, as “She’s All Light” but all too aptly demonstrates, it depends…


Good morning. Today is Tuesday, June 22, 2049. The time is 7:15am. Today’s forecast is partly cloudy with highs in the upper 70s.

You have 4 new messages in your mailbox. Two are labeled ‘Urgent’.

There are no appointments in your calendar.

There are no high priority items in your tasklist.

You have 4,327 users logged onto your site. Your Ranking Score is 52,288.

The soft, disembodied voice of the StatAlarm tugs you out of a dream of warm mud and sticky jello. You struggle to recapture it, but it’s gone, baby, gone, so you command the SensoBlinds to rise up, flooding light into the studio.

The old Asian lady doing tai chi in her apartment gives you a solemn nod as you head towards the shower. You used to have a camera trained on her window across the alley; her pursed lips at your nakedness always brought in a few snarky comments. She’s used to it now, just like everyone else. You only do it nowadays to keep your rankings in the mid-range.

After the shower, you dig in your closet for a polyester shirt, tight bellbottoms and black leather pumps. A popsicle-orange boa drapes around your neck for effect—Neicy thinks it’s all retrofad, but even she admits you can pull it off. You pick your hair out to a thistledown puff, apply some silver and green eyeshadow, then strike a pose.

>Rocco: Ah yeah thats whut I talkin BOUT!!!

>Pixie22: dose colours dont match. lose the boa

>BlueZig: ShaZAAAAAAMMMMM!!!!

>Peggy95: you look nice. You’re not going to wear the beret then? Continue reading

DayBreak Fiction: “She’s All Light”

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She’s All Light

LaShawn M. Wanak

 

Inevitably oneas an editorwill often get several stories using the same concept (and possibly even more so when one edits a themed anthology). Yet, as the saying goes: ‘it’s not the idea (or concept) that counts, but what you do with it.’ This is almost literally so with personality uploads: if (some would say when) they work: what are we going to do with them? In “Fembot” the military application has some surprisingly humane consequences, while here in “She’s All Light” our protagonist questions the humane consequences of the commercial application.

Also, the story, like life itself, is full of paradoxes. For one: the more connected we are, the more self-centred we seem to become: the idea being that the world should not come closer to you, but you should come closer to the world.

Another paradox: as the real world becomes more enhanced, and the virtual world becomes more real, one would expect that the transition between the two would be easier. But, as “She’s All Light” but all too aptly demonstrates, it depends…


Good morning. Today is Tuesday, June 22, 2049. The time is 7:15am. Today’s forecast is partly cloudy with highs in the upper 70s.

You have 4 new messages in your mailbox. Two are labeled ‘Urgent’.

There are no appointments in your calendar.

There are no high priority items in your tasklist.

You have 4,327 users logged onto your site. Your Ranking Score is 52,288.

The soft, disembodied voice of the StatAlarm tugs you out of a dream of warm mud and sticky jello. You struggle to recapture it, but it’s gone, baby, gone, so you command the SensoBlinds to rise up, flooding light into the studio.

The old Asian lady doing tai chi in her apartment gives you a solemn nod as you head towards the shower. You used to have a camera trained on her window across the alley; her pursed lips at your nakedness always brought in a few snarky comments. She’s used to it now, just like everyone else. You only do it nowadays to keep your rankings in the mid-range.

After the shower, you dig in your closet for a polyester shirt, tight bellbottoms and black leather pumps. A popsicle-orange boa drapes around your neck for effect—Neicy thinks it’s all retrofad, but even she admits you can pull it off. You pick your hair out to a thistledown puff, apply some silver and green eyeshadow, then strike a pose.

>Rocco: Ah yeah thats whut I talkin BOUT!!!

>Pixie22: dose colours dont match. lose the boa

>BlueZig: ShaZAAAAAAMMMMM!!!!

>Peggy95: you look nice. You’re not going to wear the beret then? Continue reading

DayBreak Fiction: “Fembot”, v2

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Fembot

by Carlos Hernandez

I realise I’m putting this up at Christmas Day when all the world should be hankering for peace. So shoot me for being contrary, but here’s a story set in the middle of a future war that not only reminds us why war is insanity, but that it also warps our — we hope — normally sane minds.

Carlos and I first crossed virtual paths (we still have to meet in the flesh, and the first drink will be on me!) at the old — now defunct — message boards of Creative Guy Publishing. CGP head honcho Pete Allen has published such talents as Adrienne Jones, Jack Mangan, Marlo Dianne, Carlos Hernandez, Kaori Praschak and me (OK: I’ll leave it up to others to decide if I’m a talent) in his Amityville House of Pancakes series from 2004 onwards. I have very fond memories about the discussions we had on that forum.

So I was quite chuffed when Carlos sent me a couple of stories for Interzone later on, of which two were published: “The Macrobe Conservation Project” in IZ #202 (sharing a ToC with CGP mate Jack Mangan) and “Exvisible” in IZ #211. And while Carlos also had stories printed in literary magazines like Written Word Magazine and Cosmopsis, and in a mystery anthology called Hit List, the Best of Latino Mystery, he also kept writing speculative fiction, and his contribution to Interfictions 2 — “The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria” — is a doozy (effortlessly mixing magic realism, SF, fantasy and Cuban voodoo rituals), while his Futurismic story — “Homeostasis” — is a must-read, not only because it’s a thought-provoking piece about how tomorrow’s medical technology can change your very being and identity (with philosophical zombies and Searle’s ‘Chinese Room’ thrown in for good measure), but also because “Fembot” takes the premise of “Homeostasis” a step further, and into the battlefield. And while you can go read “Homeostasis” with the click of a mouse, it is not strictly necessary as “Fembot” (like “Homeostasis”) can be read fully stand-alone. Also, this is Carlos at his very (so far, I hasten to add: he just gets better and better) best, and most humane.

Because this is, even if it’s set in a very dirty war zone, a story about love: how it can blossom in the harshest of places and survive even the strangest of transitions…

KAESŎNG

As we approached the Folk Hotel, a dog emerged from the entrance, loping happily toward us. So I looked at Travis, and he leveled his rifle and shot it. One yelp and it fell.

It didn’t explode. That was disappointing. If the dog explodes, everything’s clear, everything’s right. But dogs don’t explode too often. Most of the time, the bullet goes in through the head and comes out the ass, dragging half the mongrel’s guts out with it. But even that feels a little bit good. And sometimes, not often, but way too often, a dog explodes. Then you’re justified. Then you sit there and watch the carcass burn and say, “Sorry buddy, it was you or me.”

A dead dog will rot in no time during the Changma. Rains nonstop, and even if it does stop it’s like it didn’t: instead of obeying gravity, the rain just hangs in the air like someone hit the pause button. I wondered if some local would find the carcass in time to harvest the meat. And then I wondered how many of my squad wouldn’t mind being the ones doing the harvesting. We had 22 Chicken à la King MREs to split between the seven of us — plenty of food if we made it back to our FOB on schedule. But if we were detained even a couple of days, things could get dicey. So, starting now, we had to eat like things would get dicey. If we each ate half an MRE a day, we’d have food for a week. We’d be starving — half a Chicken à la King MRE will give you about 650 calories — but we’d make it.

So I knew we’d be starving, and here was a fresh kill in front of us. If we didn’t eat it, someone else would. We’d have to make sure the dog wasn’t diseased, or that it wasn’t an IED — a single bullet won’t always set off a gutbuster. But if it wasn’t either of those things, we’d be fools not to eat it.

I signaled the rest of the patrol to cover me. But as I started to make for the dog, Ludmilla said, “Don’t to be stupid, Sergeant. Send the Fembot.”

Continue reading

DayBreak Fiction: “Fembot”

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Fembot

by Carlos Hernandez

I realise I’m putting this up at Christmas Day when all the world should be hankering for peace. So shoot me for being contrary, but here’s a story set in the middle of a future war that not only reminds us why war is insanity, but that it also warps our — we hope — normally sane minds.

Carlos and I first crossed virtual paths (we still have to meet in the flesh, and the first drink will be on me!) at the old — now defunct — message boards of Creative Guy Publishing. CGP head honcho Pete Allen has published such talents as Adrienne Jones, Jack Mangan, Marlo Dianne, Carlos Hernandez, Kaori Praschak and me (OK: I’ll leave it up to others to decide if I’m a talent) in his Amityville House of Pancakes series from 2004 onwards. I have very fond memories about the discussions we had on that forum.

So I was quite chuffed when Carlos sent me a couple of stories for Interzone later on, of which two were published: “The Macrobe Conservation Project” in IZ #202 (sharing a ToC with CGP mate Jack Mangan) and “Exvisible” in IZ #211. And while Carlos also had stories printed in literary magazines like Written Word Magazine and Cosmopsis, and in a mystery anthology called Hit List, the Best of Latino Mystery, he also kept writing speculative fiction, and his contribution to Interfictions 2 — “The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria” — is a doozy (effortlessly mixing magic realism, SF, fantasy and Cuban voodoo rituals), while his Futurismic story — “Homeostasis” — is a must-read, not only because it’s a thought-provoking piece about how tomorrow’s medical technology can change your very being and identity (with philosophical zombies and Searle’s ‘Chinese Room’ thrown in for good measure), but also because “Fembot” takes the premise of “Homeostasis” a step further, and into the battlefield. And while you can go read “Homeostasis” with the click of a mouse, it is not strictly necessary as “Fembot” (like “Homeostasis”) can be read fully stand-alone. Also, this is Carlos at his very (so far, I hasten to add: he just gets better and better) best, and most humane.

Because this is, even if it’s set in a very dirty war zone, a story about love: how it can blossom in the harshest of places and survive even the strangest of transitions…

KAESŎNG

As we approached the Folk Hotel, a dog emerged from the entrance, loping happily toward us. So I looked at Travis, and he leveled his rifle and shot it. One yelp and it fell.

It didn’t explode. That was disappointing. If the dog explodes, everything’s clear, everything’s right. But dogs don’t explode too often. Most of the time, the bullet goes in through the head and comes out the ass, dragging half the mongrel’s guts out with it. But even that feels a little bit good. And sometimes, not often, but way too often, a dog explodes. Then you’re justified. Then you sit there and watch the carcass burn and say, “Sorry buddy, it was you or me.”

A dead dog will rot in no time during the Changma. Rains nonstop, and even if it does stop it’s like it didn’t: instead of obeying gravity, the rain just hangs in the air like someone hit the pause button. I wondered if some local would find the carcass in time to harvest the meat. And then I wondered how many of my squad wouldn’t mind being the ones doing the harvesting. We had 22 Chicken à la King MREs to split between the seven of us — plenty of food if we made it back to our FOB on schedule. But if we were detained even a couple of days, things could get dicey. So, starting now, we had to eat like things would get dicey. If we each ate half an MRE a day, we’d have food for a week. We’d be starving — half a Chicken à la King MRE will give you about 650 calories — but we’d make it.

So I knew we’d be starving, and here was a fresh kill in front of us. If we didn’t eat it, someone else would. We’d have to make sure the dog wasn’t diseased, or that it wasn’t an IED — a single bullet won’t always set off a gutbuster. But if it wasn’t either of those things, we’d be fools not to eat it.

I signaled the rest of the patrol to cover me. But as I started to make for the dog, Ludmilla said, “Don’t to be stupid, Sergeant. Send the Fembot.”

Continue reading

DayBreak Fiction: “The Courage of the Lion Tamer” v2

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The Courage of the Lion Tamer

by Anya Martin

Back in 2006, I did an almost coast-to-coast trip in the US when I went from Anaheim (after LACon IV) to Atlanta (for Dragon*Con), rental car loaded with tons of Interzone copies (and various TTAPress releases). In Atlanta, and at Dragon*Con, Anya Martin — whom I’d already met both at Interaction and LACon IV — and her husband Phil showed me around. They were fantastic hosts.

I also vividly remember Phil complaining — well, it wasn’t complaining, more like ruefully wondering — why Anya wasn’t writing fiction anymore (as a journalist she was and is writing plenty of non-fiction). After I returned from the madness that is Dragon*Con (and I spent a few days winding down with Anya and Phil), I tried to entice Anya into writing via a few emails, but — seemingly — to little or no effect. Until this summer, as she sent me “The Courage of the Lion Tamer” about ten seconds before the Shine deadline closed, noting in her email that she had actually used this as a way to force her to finish a short story and actually send it out.

I quite like “The Courage of the Lion Tamer”, but when I was making my final selections for the Shine anthology I chose two stories also set in Africa that I thought worked and fitted the sensibility of Shine just a bit better. Nevertheless, I’m very happy to publish “The Courage of the Lion Tamer” here at DayBreak Magazine, and I certainly hope that she will keep (and have some info that she is) writing more fiction.

For now, enjoy this reminiscence of a near future that, on the one hand it needs to be rewilded, but on the other hand might need to keep in touch with the latest developments at large, as well.

(Note: and the day before I’m putting up this story I find out — via ecoworldly — that a small part of it is already happening: Living with Lions: Lion Guardians. To avoid a minor spoiler, it’s probably better to check these links after reading Anya’s story.)

“Fear an ignorant man more than a lion.”

—Turkish proverb

I could hear Simba grumbling behind his bars—at least it sounded like grumbling—a raw guttural noise that he often makes not dissimilar to the tones uttered by a dog I once had when he was trying to get comfortable and rubbing his back against a wall. One of the three lionesses also made a faint growl, and another echoed her. Probably Simba was rearranging himself or maybe just a particularly loud snore and the others responding. But it was my job to ensure they were all right at all times, so I rolled out of my cot and into my sandals, splashed water on my face from the faucet, grabbed a dressing gown and flashlight, and slipped out of the tent.

As I stumbled in the direction of the cages, a red-tailed monkey dashed across my path, and shining the flashlight up on another of the tents in the camp, I spied the white jowls and ruffs of two more running across its roof. Maybe the lions’ noises were just triggered by their movement. I rounded the tent’s corner, and as the cages came into view, though, I saw the cause of the disturbance—the grayish-brown outline of a warthog standing about 10 feet from the lions, and Simba on his feet, glancing at it, pacing, a mix of fascination and—I hoped—hunger in his eyes. The lionesses also had their eyes locked. They would need those natural instincts to kick in soon if they were going to survive.

Warthogs wandered the camp freely, and one of them even laid down almost literally at my feet yesterday. Were it not for its tusks, I almost dared reach down and pet it. Would have thought the lions would make the little guy, from snout to tail about four foot long, nervous, but I guess he could sense the bars that separated him from being a late night snack. Kind of like the housecat that stares down a dog that’s going crazy to chase it but is confined to a leash. Continue reading

DayBreak Fiction: “The Courage of the Lion Tamer”

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The Courage of the Lion Tamer

by Anya Martin

Back in 2006, I did an almost coast-to-coast trip in the US when I went from Anaheim (after LACon IV) to Atlanta (for Dragon*Con), rental car loaded with tons of Interzone copies (and various TTAPress releases). In Atlanta, and at Dragon*Con, Anya Martin — whom I’d already met both at Interaction and LACon IV — and her husband Phil showed me around. They were fantastic hosts.

I also vividly remember Phil complaining — well, it wasn’t complaining, more like ruefully wondering — why Anya wasn’t writing fiction anymore (as a journalist she was and is writing plenty of non-fiction). After I returned from the madness that is Dragon*Con (and I spent a few days winding down with Anya and Phil), I tried to entice Anya into writing via a few emails, but — seemingly — to little or no effect. Until this summer, as she sent me “The Courage of the Lion Tamer” about ten seconds before the Shine deadline closed, noting in her email that she had actually used this as a way to force her to finish a short story and actually send it out.

I quite like “The Courage of the Lion Tamer”, but when I was making my final selections for the Shine anthology I chose two stories also set in Africa that I thought worked and fitted the sensibility of Shine just a bit better. Nevertheless, I’m very happy to publish “The Courage of the Lion Tamer” here at DayBreak Magazine, and I certainly hope that she will keep (and have some info that she is) writing more fiction.

For now, enjoy this reminiscence of a near future that, on the one hand it needs to be rewilded, but on the other hand might need to keep in touch with the latest developments at large, as well.

(Note: and the day before I’m putting up this story I find out — via ecoworldly — that a small part of it is already happening: Living with LionsLion Guardians. To avoid a minor spoiler, it’s probably better to check these links after reading Anya’s story.)

“Fear an ignorant man more than a lion.”

—Turkish proverb

I could hear Simba grumbling behind his bars—at least it sounded like grumbling—a raw guttural noise that he often makes not dissimilar to the tones uttered by a dog I once had when he was trying to get comfortable and rubbing his back against a wall. One of the three lionesses also made a faint growl, and another echoed her. Probably Simba was rearranging himself or maybe just a particularly loud snore and the others responding. But it was my job to ensure they were all right at all times, so I rolled out of my cot and into my sandals, splashed water on my face from the faucet, grabbed a dressing gown and flashlight, and slipped out of the tent.

As I stumbled in the direction of the cages, a red-tailed monkey dashed across my path, and shining the flashlight up on another of the tents in the camp, I spied the white jowls and ruffs of two more running across its roof. Maybe the lions’ noises were just triggered by their movement. I rounded the tent’s corner, and as the cages came into view, though, I saw the cause of the disturbance—the grayish-brown outline of a warthog standing about 12 feet from the lions, and Simba on his feet, glancing at it, pacing, a mix of fascination and—I hoped—hunger in his eyes. The lionesses also had their eyes locked. They would need those natural instincts to kick in soon if they were going to survive.

Warthogs wandered the camp freely, and one of them even laid down almost literally at my feet yesterday. Were it not for its tusks, I almost dared reach down and pet it. Would have thought the lions would make the little guy, from snout to tail about four foot long, nervous, but I guess he could sense the bars that separated him from being a late night snack. Kind of like the housecat that stares down a dog that’s going crazy to chase it but is confined to a leash. Continue reading

DayBreak Fiction: “The Branding of Shu Mei Feng”

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The Branding of Shu Mei Feng

By Amanda Clark

Apart from wanting optimistic, near future SF stories for the Shine anthology, I also wanted to have a wide range of settings for the Shine stories and — ideally — also from authors from across the world. I didn’t quite achieve the latter (the language barrier: translating is, relatively, expensive; not enough outreach and other factors), but I think I succeeded in the former.

By necessity, this means that a lot of these worldwide settings are written through the eyes of western authors. This is a part of writing the other, that is a person from culture A writing about a person from culture B. Research and feedback are an essential part of that, and it certainly helps if you’ve actually been in that particular place. Well, Amanda Clark has lived in China for several years, and I think it shows in “The Branding of Shu Mei Fen”.

Yes, there will be a story in Shine that’s also set in China, and the main reason I took that one — after the upcoming Shine competition it will be revealed which one I’m talking about — is that “The Branding of Shu Mei Feng” is mostly set after the important changes are mostly set in motion, while — “The Earth of Yunhe” — depicts how one such a ground change could be implemented.

I first met Amanda Clark in the bar at the 2008 World Fantasy in Calgary: she was jetlagged after returning from Shanghai, and she told me she would start to ferment stories from her four years in Shanghai and Beijing. “The Branding of Shu Mei Feng” is the first one, and I certainly hope that she will write more. Also, she read part of it at the World Fantasy in San José a few weeks ago, and it was great (it showed me new angles to a story I already had read several times).

Admittedly, the beginning has a strong hint of Red Barchetta and “A Nice Morning Drive” (our heroine likes to tamper with, or reconfigure internal combustion vehicles), but that is only the kick-off. So follow Shu Mei Feng as she finds her way in a New World that is not only Brave, but simultaneously different and the same: as new policies are implemented, certain old habits die hard…

Shu Mei Feng — daughter of family Shu, most honorable owners of Beijing’s Best Happiness and Prosperity Vertical Farm No. 1 — screamed.

Icy liquid seeped into her eyes, her mouth, her nose, shutting off sight, sound, smell. Mei Feng felt neither Beautiful nor like a Phoenix in that moment. Her name should have been Drowned Turtle.

A calloused hand slid into her palm, soft, warm, squeezing rhythmically. Mei Feng willed herself to grip the hand, and this time she felt her fingers respond. She jerked upward, still blind, sputtering and coughing so hard she thought a lung might just come up.

“What the fuck?” She asked. The calloused hand squeezed painfully. She couldn’t hear her own voice. “I’ve gone deaf,” she added.

Light exploded around her, followed by the sound of water dripping and the earthy smell of new plantings. She twitched, gasping for one clean breath, crying out in relief when it came. She lay up to her neck under a blanket of hydroponic wool, so thick it pressed her down into the galvanized water trough jammed into her family’s shower. The blanket was connected by wires that ran over Father’s shoulders to an instrument that let out a little ping every few seconds. Continue reading

DayBreak Fiction: “The Branding of Shu Mei Feng”, v2

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The Branding of Shu Mei Feng

By Amanda Clark

Apart from wanting optimistic, near future SF stories for the Shine anthology, I also wanted to have a wide range of settings for the Shine stories and — ideally — also from authors from across the world. I didn’t quite achieve the latter (the language barrier: translating is, relatively, expensive; not enough outreach and other factors), but I think I succeeded in the former.

By necessity, this means that a lot of these worldwide settings are written through the eyes of western authors. This is a part of writing the other, that is a person from culture A writing about a person from culture B. Research and feedback are an essential part of that, and it certainly helps if you’ve actually been in that particular place. Well, Amanda Clark has lived in China for several years, and I think it shows in “The Branding of Shu Mei Fen”.

Yes, there will be a story in Shine that’s also set in China, and the main reason I took that one — after the upcoming Shine competition it will be revealed which one I’m talking about — is that “The Branding of Shu Mei Feng” is mostly set after the important changes are mostly set in motion, while — “The Earth of Yunhe” — depicts how one such a ground change could be implemented.

I first met Amanda Clark in the bar at the 2008 World Fantasy in Calgary: she was jetlagged after returning from Shanghai, and she told me she would start to ferment stories from her four years in Shanghai and Beijing. “The Branding of Shu Mei Feng” is the first one, and I certainly hope that she will write more. Also, she read part of it at the World Fantasy in San José a few weeks ago, and it was great (it showed me new angles to a story I already had read several times).

Admittedly, the beginning has a strong hint of Red Barchetta and “A Nice Morning Drive” (our heroine likes to tamper with, or reconfigure internal combustion vehicles), but that is only the kick-off. So follow Shu Mei Feng as she finds her way in a New World that is not only Brave, but simultaneously different and the same: as new policies are implemented, certain old habits die hard…

Shu Mei Feng — daughter of family Shu, most honorable owners of Beijing’s Best Happiness and Prosperity Vertical Farm No. 1 — screamed.

Icy liquid seeped into her eyes, her mouth, her nose, shutting off sight, sound, smell. Mei Feng felt neither Beautiful nor like a Phoenix in that moment. Her name should have been Drowned Turtle.

A calloused hand slid into her palm, soft, warm, squeezing rhythmically. Mei Feng willed herself to grip the hand, and this time she felt her fingers respond. She jerked upward, still blind, sputtering and coughing so hard she thought a lung might just come up.

“What the fuck?” She asked. The calloused hand squeezed painfully. She couldn’t hear her own voice. “I’ve gone deaf,” she added.

Light exploded around her, followed by the sound of water dripping and the earthy smell of new plantings. She twitched, gasping for one clean breath, crying out in relief when it came. She lay up to her neck under a blanket of hydroponic wool, so thick it pressed her down into the galvanized water trough jammed into her family’s shower. The blanket was connected by wires that ran over Father’s shoulders to an instrument that let out a little ping every few seconds. Continue reading