Friday, June 15, 2007

teddy bear rampage

I was looking for markets to send a new batch of stories and poems to, and stumbled across this classic story:
"Fluff and Buttons on the Teddy Bear Range"
by Matthew Sanborn Smith
published at Chiaroscuro

Check it out. It's the perfect blend of being dead serious about the absurd. It reminded me of my first sale to Analog -- "Last of the Soft Things," about how stuffed animals indirectly destroy civilization. Even if a premise is silly, true "speculative fiction" thinking means that we follow our "what ifs" to their logical conclusions, however illogical the results. That's how my current Analog tale ("Jimmy the Box") fits into a hard sci-fi magazine: the logic is pure science, and if the premise is not entirely serious, the results are still valid. Throw in the human element, and it makes the day. Regardless of genre or current story formulas, I think we should always be allowed to have fun with reality.

Okay, I know I should be promoting my own works on my blog. Really? Why talk and talk and never ask for money? Just kidding. I hate selling things, hate talking about money. I like to hear about people, and get tired of talking about me.

I hope you enjoy what I write and check out some of my books and other projects -- see the links at the right.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nowhere, Arizona

We got back to the hotel at midnight, and Carmen went to sleep in the first two minutes. But I couldn't shake the feeling that we'd forgot something. I hope we made it clear that we were going back to the hotel, not staying at the house. And now it was too late to call.

I couldn't sleep. It reminded me of other possible lapses. Not closing out magazines 100% right - someone out there would corner me and say I never gave him an answer on a poem. And if I ever went back to college there was a whole semester of incompletes, for weird classes I never would have chosen.

We started home the next day, my nerves frazzled. The car sounded funny. We ended up seventy miles from anywhere in a small town baking in the sun. A friendly general store, a truckstop, and though there was no hotel, there was a guy who followed us around and begged us to stay upstairs. When the car exploded after dinner, we had no choice but to stay upstairs from the video store. All night Carmen slept and I heard the ch-ching of the cash registers, as the small town of eighty people dished out a thousand videos. In the morning the car was fine, but the town was made out of barbed wire, the townsfolk were plastic bags caught on the barbs, crying in the wind.

Time to go. But when I checked the map, we were in no known state, no known country. There were red roads and blue rivers, and glyphs that looked like eyeballs. I knew we lived west, but halfway home we were in the ocean, far from land, and the last of the air was gone.

= dream 5/27/07

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

feel the buzz

Studying bees. Cages, hives, mazes and transmitters, and the everpresent smell of honey. Yummy research, really. But still, I couldn't eat my peanut butter and honey sandwiches instead of the little critters. But one night as I was turning off the lights, and there was a plastic crash, and I was quickly surrounded by a buzzing swarm. They went down my shirt, and stopped, stingers ready ... while a hand of bees flipped the light switch back up. Lights came on, and a line of bees lined up on the table, in groups of seven: three horizontal, four vertical, forming a bunch of number eights like on an old calculator. It was something we had tried to teach them, but they had pretended not to learn.

Now they formed words, but flipping bodies up or down, like a furry LED display:


We had been studying the effects of cell phones on the hive. So I knew which hum they were talking about. I turned on the jamming system, which canceled out the cell tower signals from around the lab.


"I can't change the world."

"OR ELSE ..."

"Well, I can't change it YET. We're learning what the problem is."


They all stung at once. I swelled up and the world went red, but I saw their last message.


a dream 5/27/07
And I wrote another tale about bees just yesterday ...