Twitter flash fic

Sorry, I’ve spent all day reading for school and writing a paper.  But I have my Chuck Wendig-inspired #talesfromblackfriday tweet for you to enjoy:

You walk down an aisle of smiling boys labeled “Jimmy”
The sign above reads:
CLASSIC AMERICAN NUCLEAR FAMILY, 80% OFF

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Going back to Lloyd Alexander

I’d forgotten just how much I enjoyed Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three and the rest of the Prydain series when I was younger.  I think I also missed a lot of the gendered subtexts (many of which are pretty overt) when I was reading Alexander’s work the first time through.  Or rather, I didn’t pay much attention to them even though they were right up in my face.  Rereading Lloyd Alexander has been a bit strange.

I’m afraid I don’t have anything more deep for you.  I have to go back to work, reading more Lloyd Alexander and Colonial and Post-Colonial theory, and writing about both of them (though not at the same time).

Though actually, on that note, there’s an excellent quote for you from Chidi Okonkwo’s piece “Casualties of Freedom” that sums up 20th century foreign policy pretty well:

“The role of the West in Third World poverty and instability has been that of pirates who, having plundered and sunk a merchant ship take up positions along the shore and shoot any survivors trying to swim to safety.”

Jessica Jones, AKA Intense

No spoilers here, but a trigger warning seems appropriate.  This show deals with abuse and PTSD.  It’s emotionally exhausting.  I haven’t seen the whole series all the way through; that would require far more endurance than I have, and less pursuit of other things that I enjoy.

But I can tell you that from what I’ve seen so far, it’s a really good show.  It’s intense in the kind of way that leaves me with weird twisty knotting feelings in my chest, but without pushing me so far overboard that I can’t watch at all.  It makes me want to keep watching, too.

It’s funny, it’s painful, and I think it has a far better central character and set of central struggles than did Daredevil.  In fact, I think it more or less improves on Daredevil in every way.  It isn’t perfect; there are a few narrative choices so far that I disagree with or which ring false to me but… it’s GOOD.  It’s really good.  I hope you get to watch it soon.

Oh, also, the art for the intro looks a lot like Jeremy Mann’s cityscapes, which are gorgeous.

Flash Fiction: J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations – Variation 14

This is goofy.  I’m writing a new piece of flash fiction from Chuck Wendig’s usual challenge (I’ve skipped a few, my apologies), and, well… I’m not sure what to do.  The challenge involves using a random song as both your title and as inspiration for the piece itself.  I’ve done that before; so far, so good.

I shuffled until I got a named track (my first result was “Track 9” from an untitled trance album), and now (as you can see) I’m writing a story called J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations – Variation 14.

In case you don’t know what that sounds like, here’s a video (the piece is roughly two minutes, though the video continues afterwards).  I’ve tried embedding it, but the time-specific feature doesn’t seem to be working.

My version is played by Glenn Gould, at roughly twice that speed, clocking in at 59 seconds. Please excuse me while I stare into space and figure out what the hell this means story-wise.

Right.  Got it.  This might be a little odd, but I think it works.  Enjoy!

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Slushpiles and Rejection Letters

My day today has been rather full.  After reading homework in the library, I had the privilege of spending three hours going through a slushpile for someone I know (for the uninformed, a “slushpile” is what you call the vertiginous heaps of unsolicited submissions received by agents and publishing houses).

It was enlightening, and somehow encouraging and discouraging at the same time.  It puts me in mind of the internal rejection notes from Houghton Mifflin Company that I read while doing research last spring; I found reading committee notes on why HMCo shouldn’t print Poul Anderson, Philip K Dick, or even George Selden’s The Cricket in Times Square.  That’s two iconic mid-1900s sci-fi authors and the 1961 Newbery Honor recipient, all rejected with pithy and sometimes caustic internal notes exchanged between the various submissions readers.

It was enlightening because I found myself rejecting anything that didn’t closely match the guidelines I’d been given, even things that I thought might have been perfectly decent books.  There were no hard feelings, the submission simply wasn’t *exactly* what I was looking for.  It was encouraging, because a number of them weren’t very good and I’d like to think that I could do a better job than that.  And it was discouraging, because in order to submit something and get an editor you need a finished manuscript, and finishing a manuscript that would be accepted is much easier with an editor.

Basically, you could do it if they’d let you, but they won’t let you until you do it.

It’s a mess.

So, it’s time for me to figure out how to finish my work.  Again.

And if your work has been rejected by people, don’t give up.  Submit again and again and again.  Everywhere you can.  Maybe you should tweak things, but do keep trying.

Canada + Star Trek?

Sorry, this isn’t about putting Spock on Canadian money.  It’s far more interesting than that, I think.

There’s this thing right here, which is a fascinating glance at what Trudeau is doing / has already done in Canada.  And there’s this piece here, which is The Oatmeal’s comic on a very particular epiphany, one that I rather appreciate.  How are they connected?

First, you should probably look at both of them.  They’re rather short.

Then, well… maybe I took away the wrong message from watching and thinking about Star Trek.  But it seems to me that at its best, and in spite of its flaws, Star Trek tries to share a vision of a world (of multiple star systems) united, in which our differences simply aren’t an issue.  A world in which it doesn’t matter whether you’re obviously representative of one side of a cold war currently gripping the TV show’s planet, or obviously part of the other side.  Where it doesn’t matter that your skin is not the same color as that of the other members of your crew.  Where it doesn’t matter that you’re human or alien or a little bit of both, or even (though TOS didn’t do such a good job of this one, methinks) not a man.

The show is a good reminder that everything is the product of its times.

To continue, it’s a world where, ideally, your gender and sexual orientation aren’t tools used by those with power to subject you to living hell.  There are many other differences I could / should mention here.

But what I’m trying to say, I think, is that Trudeau appears to be assembling the crew of the next Enterprise.  I am intrigued.

Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein

There are a number of covers I’ve seen for this book, and while they all ostensibly represent the book, the one above is the only one I saw in person that feels appropriate.  It’s a very good book, definitely worth reading, and more than a little dark.  Here’s the other one I’ve seen in print for a spot of comparison:

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Miska Redux

I’ve been working on my Miska story for class, and as such have more material for you.  Some of it is rewritten old stuff, some of it is new.  I think I’ve done a better job of firming up her voice, and showing off her life.  I hope you enjoy it!

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