Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Return of Short Fiction Tuesday

Our guests just left this morning, so I can't say I've read a lot of online fiction this past week, but I did enjoy this week's Strange Horizons story, "Out of Sombra Canyon." It's a story of a couple who are scientists studying an elusive, possibly extinct, hummingbird in the American Southwest. It's not the first speculative fiction story I've read in recent years centering on a search for a species that might or might not be extinct, and I know I've found myself captivated with nonfiction reports of similar searches. I think it skirts the edge of that cryptozoology sense of adventure and the unknown while staying rooted in something more plausible--that's my theory at the moment for why it makes for an intriguing premise. A story is not merely premise, of course, and this story is otherwise completely different from the other one I'm remembering.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Guests in town

I have my in-laws out this week, which is why I didn't get a chance to post a "Short Fiction Tuesday" post. I don't know if I'll get to post tomorrow or not, but I am planning a series of blog posts, coming in the next week or so.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Inspiration

I haven't come across anything especially inspiring this week--in part because it's been one of those weeks when everything seems to be coming to a head at once, especially at the end of this week as we get ready for my in-laws to visit (as well as making preparations for a trip to northern California later this summer).

I have been learning about some pretty out-there political ideas that are apparently alive and well in Northern Colorado. Like conspiracy theorist out there. They tried to get one of our city council members recalled, accusing her of being a secret agent (seriously). Their main problem is apparently that she takes environmental factors into account as the city does its planning (horrors!). Fortunately they failed to get enough signatures, or we would have been footing the bill for a special election, less than a year before the regularly scheduled election. At times it's comical. At times it's disturbing that people buy into this. I haven't found any direct inspiration from this, but perhaps it'll work it's way into a story some day.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Short Fiction Tuesday

For a while now I've been seeing reviews, interviews, discussions of Apex Publishing's Dark Faith, and I've been quite curious about it. As the blurb puts it, "an anthology that explores, questions, and shatters the boundaries of faith."

So this week I found that Apex Online had published a story by one of the co-editors of the anthology, Jerry Gordon's "City of Refuge," as a sort of tie-in to the anthology's release. (There were several other stories in that issue that tied in to the theme, included Paul Jessup's story, which I believe I linked to already a month or two ago.) "City of Refuge" is a post-zombie-apocalypse story, but the focus (thankfully!) isn't on the zombies themselves but on the world that is developing in its wake. The church somehow managed to establish itself as a shield against the zombies, and it now exerts powerful influence over the remaining pockets of humans. There are some glimmers of Walter Miller's excellent SF mock-up A Canticle of Leibowitz here, though the focus is different. There are also hints of Joan of Arc. It's an original world Gordon imagines, though, and some of the comments there show that others have suggested he explore it in more depth. I'm perfectly happy with where it left off and find that satisfying, but if Gordon did decide to extend it into a novel, I would certainly check it out.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Monkey and the Inkpot

I haven't been reading much nonfiction for the past week or two. One things I have been reading is Danielewski's House of Leaves. I've been aware of the book and its high reputation for years, but finally was able to get my hands on a copy. I'm loving the intricate back and forth of the various storylines and the whimsical footnotes (though I have to admit I'm far more interested in Navidson's film and Zampano's commentary on it than on Johnny Truant's tangents and adventures).

I'm not sure that it's inspiring me to write more experimental stuff at the moment, but I do have a few stories that are intellectual experiments in somewhat similar ways, stories that I've either not submitted at all or submitted only a few places and not sent back out. So this is making me want to get those out again and see what markets they may be a good fit for.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Soccer

I must be getting close to the four-year anniversary of when I began this blog--I can remember that some of my early posts involved World Cup, watching the games on Univision since that was the only channel I could get with rabbit-ears that was showing the games live. Four years later, I still have the same TV set (9 years old, I guess--it was a wedding gift, so it's easy to remember when we got it...), the same rabbit ears, though a converter box is hooked up between the two. And I still have my blog...

Slate has an article up today on the secret history of soccer, about how soccer in the roaring 20s was actually very popular and growing in some parts of the US, with teams like the Brooklyn Wanderers, the Patterson Silk Sox, the New Bedford Whalers. Had events fallen differently, had childish infighting not plagued some of the owners and the like, perhaps it might have ended up rivaling the then nascent professional football and basketball leagues.

But then, as Dave Eggers points out in the excerpt (also on Slate) from his book The Thinking Fan's Guide to the World Cup, [EDIT: actually, it's an excerpt from that book, and it's by Eggers, but the book as a whole is a bunch of essays from many writers] would we soccer fans really want the sport to be that popular?:
If you were soccer, the sport of kings, would you want the adulation of a people who elected Bush and Cheney, not once but twice?
OK, maybe not... But it is interesting the very different connotation being a soccer fan in the US has vs. being a football fan in, say, the UK. The impression I get, anyway, is that football fans in the UK often end up with a similar stereotype to that of North American football fans here (a bit dense, dumb jock/fratboy/cheap beer mindset,etc.--not that I think US football fans really are all that way, as I sometimes enjoy the sport as well, but that's the stereotype that gets perpetuated on TV), whereas here being a soccer fan is usually associated with a more artsy and cultured, a sport, as Eggers' book implies, for thinking fans. More likely to enjoy a good microbrew or an expensive single-malt during the game, not a Bud Light. If soccer had enjoyed growing popularity through the Depression and ever since, I imagine that stereotype would be very different.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Short Fiction Tuesday

A few weeks ago I mentioned a rather long story I was reading (and enjoying) but hadn't yet finished, "And Other Such Delights" by James Leckey. I finished that the other day and found it to be a very good story, and especially enjoyed the Dying Earth feel to it (or the Moribund Sun, as Leckey calls it). Bopping around, then, I found that he has at least one more Moribund Sun story, "The Deathless Ones" in Fantastic Horror. It's a much shorter story, and horror is definitely the right classification, but it also does a good job of showcasing the decadent society Leckey has created. (There's also a hint of Dunsany in the mythology within the story, which I appreciated.)

In other reading, I also enjoyed Megan Arkenberg's "The Copperroof War" in Ideomancer. This isn't the first time I've mentioned one of her stories here. What I especially like here is the way the chronology plays out, starting when the war begins and then alternating sections with one continuing the war and its consequences, the other proceeding backwards to give the context. Cool structure that's keeping my interest and curiosity high. Plus, the story is set in a sprawling house so big it holds multiple kingdoms...one of these days I'm going to have to blog about why making things enormously big appeals to me so much, if for nothing else than so that I understand it myself...

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Inspiration--Archaeology

In line with my post a few weeks ago about some cool archaeological articles, there was an article on MSNBC this week about a discovery of what appears to be large-scale ocher dye and glue production site...from 58,000 years ago. I'm always fascinated with early human society and what little we can piece together of their culture(s), so I thought that was pretty cool. I've done some stories meant to take place in prehistoric-type cultures, though probably nothing quite this ancient.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

No short story link this week

Oh yeah, it's Wednesday already, not Tuesday--Memorial Day seems to have messed me up. Anyway, I haven't had time this week to read any of the various short stories that I've come across (though I have several news ones open in tabs), so no recommendations this week.

But if anyone else has come across a story that they especially liked--something new, something old, doesn't matter--I'd love to have other suggestions here as well.

EDIT: Just a quick note to add that I've just discovered Lightspeed is now live, with its first short story, plus an interview and an editorial. I lean more toward the fantastic usually, but I certainly intend to pay attention to this zine as it gets running.