Camp is good. I’m learning:
a. Showing is an illusion of telling, because it’s all on the page.
b. Dramatizing consciousness is the thing.
I did a reading last evening, which was this: There weren’t any hours. They didn’t exist. Dee thought about that too much, every day she had been on this ship, every day if days had existed. But they didn’t. Those things, those ticks, didn’t exist, not anymore. And she didn’t understand what the point was of pretending they did. There were no months, no years, no millennia, no seconds. There was none of that. They didn’t have a sun, no weather, no storm coming, no frost, nothing like that, nothing that was real, nothing. They were relative to nothing. Absolutely nothing. She hated thinking about that, thinking it again and again. In spite of all of their schedules and notifications, their habits, despite what everyone said, none of that existed. They just didn’t have time anymore. There was no planet, no star, no system. They were relative to nothing. It was that simple. They no longer rotated. They no longer revolved around anything, and nothing revolved around them. There was no longer a gravitational field, nothing to hold them, to give them weight. They had removed themselves, purposely dropped themselves into the abyss. They had left. They were relative to nothing. And nothing was relative to them. They were separate, moving, independent, away, further, closer, something else, deeper, whatever the word would be, whatever they would concoct in the days, the not-days, the not-months, the not-years to come, that word that defined their current state, their collective morass, their disappearing, connected to nothingness, broken free, going too fast – .91 light speed? Really that speed? Really that?
Focus is everything. Despite a tepid reaction to my first assignment – and being told that my character (me?) is an unlikable jerk, perhaps racist – I found myself getting on track. The details are the thing. And today’s work at Kenyon College on a variety of ways to implement dialogue is a good way to move things forward:
Dee reached in for the last of the pups, already half out of the incubator, not wanting to be alone. “I was six months old. You don’t remember anything at that age.”
“You can remember some things,” Calli replied. “I can remember lots of smells, like that blue blanket. I turn back into a baby when I remember it.”
Ashe laughed. “No way.”
“I think about your aunt as a little girl – she was barely three – trying to get our mother to wake up and not understanding why she wouldn’t.” The images coursed through Dee, almost like Calli had described, the smells of the kitchen, the sun across the floor and then the dark, her own stink rising with her mother’s. “I was crying too. Don’t forget that. She had to feed me cereal and bread, handfuls and handfuls of it. And still I wouldn’t stop.”
Ashe had her face pressed close to the pup’s. “How long were you there with her?”
“Three days,” Calli answered. “She’s told us like a million times.”
The Ark: A speculative fiction trilogy, chronicling a transgenerational journey to a galaxy lights years from Earth. Stark and startling, the story conveys an essentially tragic aspect of humanity, impossibly aspiring to escape its barbarous nature. Part One: Anori The opening of the trilogy follows Dee Sinclair, an animal psychologist, as she learns of Anori (Greenlandic for ‘wind’), a highly advanced space venture, privately funded by a technological empire. After visiting the expedition base in Greenland, she joins a scientific team to collect animal specimens from across the world. Dee eventually returns to New York where she learns of the program’s experiments in cloning and meets the very replica of herself. As world powers attempt to gain control of the Anori, Dee escapes back to Greenland, where she is soon joined by her clone, Em, on the final liftoff to leave Earth. Part Two: Aqaara The Aqaara (meaning both ‘close’ and ‘far’ in Greenlandic) waits in lunar orbit as they attempt to placate the authorities on Earth and finally depart on their interstellar migration. Mourning the loss of families and friends, Dee and the 3,000 other Aqaarians adapt to life on the vessel, constructing a society dependent on technology, including The Bearing, an information and gaming implant, and create new social norms, such as The Hive, a zone for hedonistic behaviors. Murder and betrayal challenge the community’s standards, and an essential law is introduced to maintain order – F1 is the law. There is no force other than the ship. A previously undiscovered planet appears as an opportunity for colonization, resulting in a near mutiny. The Aqaara stays its course and, at last, enters Mina’s orbit, a planet that truly is much like Earth. Part Three: Mina Mina (meaning ‘taking home’) appears much like Earth, offering a wide range of climates, vegetation and species, as well as an oxygen-rich atmosphere. A Greater Sun dominates the planet, with a Lesser Sun in a parallel orbit, meaning the planet is rarely in darkness. The initial exploratory mission encounters many species – both predatory and intelligent – while they cope with their internal struggles, having spent 30 years on board The Aqaara. Other missions arrive and the community begins. Many people remain aboard the ship, mining nearby moons, as well as considering continuing the mission. The two groups become polarized, verging at times on violent conflict when further explorations of Mina yield an astonishing result – they are being observed.
It’s time to go.
“I went in to get a replacement a few years back. They had me sitting on the edge of that plastic mattress in a green paper dress and the surgeon drew a pair of red x’s on my knee. A nurse showed up with a clipboard of forms, the anesthesiologist with more. I decided that I wasn’t going to surrender. I wouldn’t sign. The surgeon had to come back. He stood in the doorway with his arms crossed. He explained everything to me like I was a child. I wouldn’t do it. And so he left. No one came for a while after that.”
“You chickened out?”
“I don’t know about that. I don’t know. I remember the feeling as a kid, when I had the first surgery. I was cold. And then nothing. I didn’t want to surrender just because they said I should.”
“I broke my hand. They put me out before I knew it.”
“You have to sign.”
She looked from her tiny window to the wall, her back hunched against the cement wall, and closed her eyes, breathing only through her nose, slowly, feeling for her heart, waiting for it to stop and skip, finally lying on her side, keeping her hands around her legs, trying to fall asleep like that. But she couldn’t. She flipped from her side to her back and had her hand in her jeans, under her panties, tucking her finger in, not moving it, just keeping it there, cupping her hand over that, thinking she would never be free. She slept once the sun had left her window, nearing seven in the morning, and slept through the afternoon; she was happy to see her church iceberg as she had left it, its pyramid bright white and fluffy, its shirts every shade of electric blue. She was lonely and empty, sick with it; it was like a gas she couldn’t swallow. She didn’t want to be here. None of this had anything to do with her. There was nothing she could understand, just the rocks and ice and never-ending light. She needed something else, something to fight against. As much as she hated the hypocrisy and greed, the contradictions, the lies and hate, she needed them to work against. Without the avarice, she had nothing to despise, only the emptiness of space, endless and eternal and gut-wrenching, the same feeling she had looking into the water, into those depths.
Some statistics after completing the 4th draft of Anori:
Pages: Edited 13% of the text; 99,867 to 86,742 words
Problem Phrases: “Falling forward”, “it was there and then not”
Music: Fireworks (Tragically Hip), soundtrack during process, repeated 300 times.
An outtake from Anori, the first book in my science fiction trilogy:
The glacier rumbled behind, a low deep shift of ice and snow, and then another rumble after that, further away. She watched the smoke and steam from the launch, the rocket nosing out of the valley, the bright ball spitting out beneath, arching up steadily in a thundering blur.
She wondered how she had come to this ridiculous moment, collecting creatures, ready for the next disaster, or pretending that this was so, that there wasn’t a cloth hanging down disguising the true intent, their responsibility for this, their predicament in this self-made trap and looked down at a cluster of pink and purple flowers in the shape of a one-armed girl, her chest thrust forward like she was being pulled to heaven.
“Everyone’s a goddamn pervert.” Dee traced her nail along her palm, following the lifeline up to the base of her index finger. “We repress that. We deny it, turn it into porn, the door locked, like it isn’t what we dream. But we all have these tiny demons. They’re our essential thing.” “What about her?” Val nodded toward a woman at the far side of the tavern, her hair pulled back, posture straight.
“Two masseurs, lots of oil.”
Dee considered the man leaving, his pink striped sleeve rolled up one arm. “Squeaky toys.”
Dee wiped her hand through the drink rings, pushing the thick puddles into small lines, making a long claw-like streak. “The thing about men is that they love to stare at their hard cocks, like a rare and marvelous wild thing.”
“They’re like little boys, amazed by that thing between their legs. They can’t fathom anything so stupendous and god-like.”
“Wards off the fear of death.”
“For, like a minute, anyway.”
“Back to the perversions.”
Dee sat on the floor and went through the books on the bottom shelves, and opened an old Pop-Up book, Babar’s Moon Trip. She opened and closed the center of the book, the space station rising up, falling down again. She played with the bent point of the space tower, toying with the tip of it until it broke and rolled the dirty piece of cardboard between her thumb and forefinger.
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