Fiction: Bacchae

Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 17.42.55.png

(London Bridge Borough High St (Stop Y) by Karl Pallinger, with Google data claim)

Bethan rested her hand on the gritty surface of the wall, and Angharad winced. It almost hurt to watch Bethan lay the lush plump heart of her palm on it. The processes involved in constructing the poured-concrete building had required no element of direct human touch, and it seemed as though the wall had never been intended for it.

“Bethan! Bethan, come away, I’m dying for a piss!”

Bethan just stood there, not sober but steady in her stilettos, with one hand flat against the wall—like she was standing in front of a bloody door and didn’t know how to knock.

Read full story here, at Big Echo.

 

Advertisements

Golem

This was written October 13th, 2014, two months and four days after the shooting of Michael Brown in a part of my home state I spent considerable time in while growing up. I was frustrated and deeply upset by the event, but unable to participate in the political responses because by then I’d already been living abroad for some years. I was further frustrated by what I saw of the media coverage: the blithe continuation of a longstanding local effort to distort the impacts of racist police brutality, coupled with a national effort to downplay and misrepresent the community’s response.

My initial note on the piece reads “a flash fiction story I don’t think I will clean up and send anywhere bc possibly too appropriative”, but I later changed my mind because I didn’t think the BLM movement was being sufficiently seen and understood, and I wanted to generate awareness and empathy. I also hoped to donate any proceeds from a sale to activists back home, because I had very little money to give at the time. BLM’s momentum grew, and I stopped submitting the piece accordingly, once again convinced it wasn’t appropriate to try and occupy public platform space with a story that wasn’t mine to tell. My politics have evolved in the last three years, and if this story, which I don’t expect I would write in the same way now, strikes the wrong note, then I am sorry for that. I offer it here now, in this semi-private setting, largely because it did come from a moment of honest rage and hope, and because I can’t disclaim those emotions or their product.

***

She came to the spot where he’d fallen where they let him lie for three hours without help and she pushed her way through the crowd that had gathered, touched the blood-splatter on the asphalt. She did not doubt for a moment that it would work. Missouri is still warm in October strangely warm and the asphalt has warmth the suggestion of give and she pushed her hand down into it, to the knuckles, to the wrist, to the elbow. People were clay to start with and they can be clay again. Dust to dust to dust again.

She began to pull her hand out and she saw the way the asphalt gaped, yonic around her arm, her palm, she thought of having given birth to him. What she got hold of was a handful of clay, still stretching, connected, to the ground. She kept pulling there might as well have been nobody there. She pulled up and up, slow-spooling. There might have been some noises some screams she didn’t hear them. The head bulged up and the great wedge of his powerful, young man’s shoulders and his arms his torso his pelvis his long legs his great clomping feet that were always too loud and would be loud again now. He would make a noise and there would be too much of him in the world. Good. Good.

She was not a tall woman and she asked help me up and two old women she knew from church, bird small and ox strong, gave her a lift, they knew what she was up to, they knew what a miracle looked like, and she whispered her son’s name into his clay ear, and they did scream for sure now she did hear them and she didn’t know whether it was what she’d done what god had done or the fact that this was a boy they could not kill, they were so afraid that there was something they could not kill and they did not know what else to do with anything. She stood back as he walked out of the drawn-back knot of people and she flinched as they shot and shot at him and he just stood there and lived, and he did not wreak a vengeance greater than change and this:

he lived, and he lived. Until he died old. He just slapped more clay onto himself when he got taller, when he got fat in middle age, when it was time for him to get wrinkles. He and another clay boy got together and his daddy got over it in time. Consign him to the ground not fresh and wet with life but dry, age-cracked, with the stillness that comes of the draining of the water, like the river bank in June, ready. Let us all be taken ready.

His mamma died before him and that was what she wanted that was right.

Nonfiction End of Year Review, Award Eligibility

AWARDS

A while ago some nice people suggested Boucher, Backbone and Blake – the legacy of Blakes 7 might be Hugo-eligible under a few categories. There’s Best Related Work, there’s Best Fan Writer, etc. THIS IS VERY KIND. THANK YOU.

HOWEVER:

I really feel Best Related Work needs to go to the report, editorial and companion essays by Brian J. White, Tobias Buckell, Justina Ireland, Mikki Kendall, Nisi Shawl, Troy Wiggins, Cecily Kane and N.K. Jemisin that together comprise “#BlackSpecFic: A Fireside Fiction Company special report”.

This collaborative project calls attention to a foundational issue in SFFnal publishing, representing the best traditions of critical, self-reflective and progressive work this award exists to recognise. Academically and practically, it is a necessary investigative report. The very model of its presentation is exciting and polyvocal, and it’d be great to see the award recognise this digital mixed-media format. Several great writers and thinkers made substantive contributions to the project. Others offered valuable reactions after the fact. The report and associated documents attracted international media attention, gave rise to editorial shifts on major SFF publications’ boards, and hopefully will spur further inclusive developments.

We should not let the memory of this work fade or its sharp, timely conclusions be overlooked. The report needs acted on, in a continuous praxis, and I believe it should also be recognised. This would show that we all feel the horrible inequalities it frankly delineates are a blight on the field, and that we are collectively serious about redressing them in the interests of both fairness and richer art. It would not definitively do so: only continuous work to dismantle systemic racism will accomplish this. But recognising the report as the most important piece of genre-related writing/the Best Related Work this year seems to me simply a just acknowledgement of a fait accompli.

As for me, I’d be happy to be considered for fan writer (though really I also think it’s past time for Abigail Nussbaum and/or Maureen K Speller to be acknowledged in that or some other capacity, but frogtea.gif).

END OF YEAR WRITING REVIEW:

STRANGE HORIZONS:

2016 In Review Part One  (my part: 270)
Yonderland (2276)

Age of Adeline (in the publishing queue, 2236)

***

OTHER PUBLICATIONS:

“Control the Computer, Control the Ship”, B7 and tech SFRA paper (promised to Foundation) (4kish atm)
“From ‘Shalom Aleichem’ to ‘Live Long and Prosper’: Engaging with Post-War American Jewish Identity via Star Trek: The Original Series“: forthcoming in “Set Phasers to Teach” (6666 with all notes)
Piece on P&P&Z (still homeless, 2980)
Piece on Love&Friendship (still homeless, 4315)

***

BLOG

FILM:

LITERATURE:

King John (2866)
Funny Girl (1426)

Sasha Regan’s All Male HMS Pinafore (1143)

NONFIC TOTAL: 84,265

***

FICTION:

Rereading (4,600, out with an anthology, waiting to hear back)

***

FANFIC:

281965 words, broken down in the end of year fic meme on my lj

***

Personal story planning, correspondence, essays and private-lj blogging:
endless

TOTAL (minus the substantial last category): 370,830 words this year, ‘published’ in one form or another

Bit less fiction than last year, and I really suspect less nonfic, but then moving was hideous and drawn out, mental health’s been bad and this year was draining all-’round.

Links, July 15

WRITING
Editor’s Note: An Apology To Our Readers
Fingerprint Words: The verbal tics that make up who we are—and how they spread to others.
Farley Mowat sent me the best rejection letter I’ve ever received
Accomplish Something Past 30? Too Late
Pacemaker Writing Schedule
Free Indirect Discourse: this is the writing mode I naturally fall into unless a story requires a POV limitation for some reason
the use of parentheses on twitter
Cruelty and Criticism
Don’t kill your darlings
How To Respond To Criticism
Tone Deaf Fiction
author bitching about review
how to format a short story for submission
TLC Slams Rihanna for Constant Nudity, Rihanna Throws Shade Right Back
Rose Lemberg on Language Hegemony
perils of the writing community
How to Tell if You’re in a MFA Workshop Story
If Strangers Talked to Everybody like They Talk to Writers
A FEW TIPS FOR WRITING FLASH FICTION
READING, WRITING, AND SUBMITTING
Don’t Attack Reviewers
Dear The Toast and The Butter: Please Fix Your Rights Grab
Le Monde editor quits after power struggle with top staff
A Memoir Is Not a Status Update: disagree, but v interesting
Passive Voice and Zombies
The significance of plot without conflict
Stories We’ve Seen Too Often
Aaron Sorkin Upset Writer Broke the Sacred Trust of the Writers’ Room