New York Subway Story

“I had a chance to do something another time a week or so after that, on the subway again,” Liyuan offered. “A young boy, maybe 10 years old, was performing a dance for a crowded train, with his father watching beside him.”

The boy approached Icarus again, head twisted to the side, humming a tune to himself.

“It was late at night, maybe midnight, and so I said something this time. ‘There’s a reason for child labor laws, you know.’ He glared back as the train pulled into Union Square. The doors opened, and he kicks me, hard, just like that. I was so surprised by that. ‘Mind your own damn business.’ And he storms off the train, pushing his kid ahead of him. It took me days to realize that I had been assaulted.”

“I liked living in New York,” Dee offered. “The people are real.”

“Even if they’re racists?” Faith demanded.

Expunged from “Aqaara”

Fragments are getting set adrift from Aqaara as I trudge through Draft One:

“Lying to your maker, Em. That won’t get you anywhere.”

“I miss you, Dee. I really do. I look forward to seeing you. I think about coming here. I look forward to coming here to see you and my cat.” Em opened her Bearing, glancing through the images. “And then I don’t.”

“There’s nothing worse than high expectations.”

“I keep mine very low.”

“This is cellular,” Liyuan interjected. “This exchange, all of this is cellular. That’s who is speaking to each other, your cells.”

“Ignore him,”’ Dee replied. “And tell us about your politics. They make you a senator yet?”

“Lai got me an Ethi for a present.”

“What do you get out of it? To do your bidding?”

“Her name’s Emma.”

“I mean, what’s the point of it? Does it tell you how great you are?”

“Dee, why don’t I bring Emma here so you can insult her, like you do with me.”

“Insult you? Em, I only talk to you like you were me.”

“That’s it, isn’t it?”

Vaughn & Staples’ “Saga”: More Sci-Fi Rubbish

In the continuing quest for inspiration in writing my science fiction book Aqaara, I was recommended the graphic novel series Saga by Brian Vaughn and Fiona Staples. I was most interested in its apparently profound treatment of sexual themes and imagery, and yet was disappointed to realize that it is neither thought-provoking nor titillating. The work is nothing more than a morass of simplistic morality propped upon a landscape of superficial sexuality in which – surprise! – a transgender character recently appears. The story-line is vapid, the dialogue interminable to say nothing of the farcical content. But worse of all are the references to the authors’ own process themselves, their love of books and killing off their babies. Which they never did and really should have.

Seven-Week Writing Session Done

Seven straight weeks of writing an average of 3-5 hours a day, culminating in 55,000 words, more than half of my second science fiction work has left me feeling empty. I think that I have done something – a summer well spent – and then I think, “So much for what?”

Aqaara: The Decision to Leave

Och engaged the signal and listened with the rest to the bitter message from Earth. “This is not open to negotiation. You are ordered to return.”

“We are leaving,” he replied simply.

“We condemn your actions. Your assets are to be seized, everything you own on Earth.”

“We give everything we have left behind freely. It is all for you. Use it for the good of all.”

“For the good of all? You have abandoned your families, your countries, your species.”              “We are on a journey to find our new home.”

“Your families will pay a dear price for your betrayal.”

“We would like you to accept our departure, commander. What else is there for you to do?”

“Set your course for return or you will be condemned.” The radio went down.

“They hung up on us?” Dee asked.

Och nodded. “It’s like a bad break-up.”

Writing Camp: Day Four at Kenyon College

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?

Writing Camp: Day Two at Kenyon College

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: Pitching the Trilogy

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. screenshot-1081Part 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. 20150708_130213Part 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. screenshot-962Part 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. 20150801_110528

It’s time to go.