Friday, September 11, 2015

Another Story in Interzone: Spin of Stars

I've got another story in the current issue of Interzone (Issue 260), the UK's longest running science fiction magazine.

It’s called The Spin of Stars – one of my favorite short stories in a manuscript currently in-progress. Each story in the manuscript features an encounter with a changeling type creature (maybe the same one). They all take place in North Florida, in many different time frames. Conquistadors, carnivals, prison executions, veteran hospitals. The Spin of Stars is primarily set in the ‘60’s. 

And the illustration in Interzone by Richard Wagner that accompanies this story is 

Illustration by Richard Wagner

You can order one copy and/or subscribe directly to Interzone (scroll to the bottom of the page to order one copy). Or you can buy a digital copy from Weightless Books (eventually - it hasn't shown up for sale there yet). You can also find copies in various bookstores around the US. Here in Santa Fe, New Mexico, it's available at Hastings. 

Issue #260 (Sept/Oct 2015) includes work by John Shirley, Priya Sharma, Jeff Noon, and C.A. Hawksmoor. The opening paragraphs and accompanying illustrations can be seen below.

Weedkiller by John Shirley
illustrated by Richard Wagner

Item image: Weedkiller

The squid balloon was hovering over East L.A., a mile past downtown. The sky was like a gray steel lid, as it usually was. Venter’s observer was hovering just under the thickest layer of haze from the sea’s gradual evaporation. Venter remembered, in childhood, L.A. had been famed for its clear, sunny days. Now the palm trees were shriveled and brown from lack of sun.

Blonde by Priya Sharma
illustrated by Martin Hanford

Item image: Blonde

“When did you go bald?”
Only Clarice would ask such a forthright question.
“Leave her alone.” Jake drains his beer. Only he would dare contradict his sister.
The clock hands have gone from late at night to early in the morning. Jake’s bar is empty of customers. The staff, who are sitting round the table, fall silent, intent on their drinks.
“It’s okay,” Rapunzel says. “I was sick and it all fell out.”
Her scalp is shiny, every follicle devoid of life. Nor does she have any eyebrows. Or hair elsewhere for that matter.
“What colour was it?”
There’s a pause, then laughter.
Jake nudges her. “You’re a joker after all.”
She knows what he thinks of her. That she’s vague and evasive and hasn’t a clue what’s going on most of the time.
“Lucky you’re beautiful enough to be bald,” he adds.
Rapunzel touches the nape of her neck where she feels most exposed and tries not to smile.

No Rez by Jeff Noon
illustrated by Dave Senecal 

Item image: No Rez

Waking   the same   every morning,                   into darkness
The darkness        of the eye
Waiting for   the day to      kick in, the first little


Murder on the Laplacian Express by C.A. Hawksmoor
illustrated by Warwick Fraser-Coombe

Item image: Murder on the Laplacian Express

“It’s all right,” Shai Laren said as Anselm swung down into the driver’s cabin of the Laplacian Express. “I’m almost sure I know how to fly this thing.”
Anselm stepped through the haze of bitter smoke pouring from the split control panel, almost stumbling over something obscured underneath it. “Where’s the driver?”
Shai didn’t look up from what was left of the controls, but the iridophores in her skin rippled blue and green with irritation. “I believe you have just found him.”

The Spin of Stars by Christien Gholson
illustrated by Richard Wagner 

Item image: The Spin of Stars

The high desert night stretches out on all sides of the Jeep. Beyond the limits of the headlights, I can feel how the dark space curves away from the earth, folds in on itself, over and over, producing the billion stars that move across my windshield. There are moments, bumping over this dirt road, when I can feel the Pleiades star cluster above me; hundreds of stars spinning, keeping time. Real time – where past and future twist around each other; where beginnings and endings converge…


Sunday, September 6, 2015

3 poems for Labor Day

The first poem below arrived while I was working at the now defunct Border's Books & Music chain. A girl around seven or eight came up to the register, slid a CD across the counter. I picked it up: The World's Most Beautiful Melodies! Sure, it was one of those cheesy repackaged CD's by some fly-by-night label, but I immediately thought what could they possibly be if it were true? All for only $3.99.

For The Girl Who Came to the Cash Register with the CD Entitled The World’s Most Beautiful Melodies                     

     What can they be?

                      The record of a sea-creature,
                                          half-woman, half turtle, floating
                      in the surf, tuning it’s eyes to the sea?
                        Or the rain,
                                     drumming the branches of a tulip tree,
     in a forest long gone, torn down, locked
                                                                    inside the mind of a poet
             walking an empty corner of the Paris Metro, lost.
                                                                                     Or the scrape
      of beetle legs against cardboard
                     (song of cement-dust falling softly onto clay tile:                              
                                                                                    jagged stones
            coupling on the bank of a jagged stone river,
                                                                        no water in sight).
                                                                                  And there is a man
                       putting a dead sparrow out to dry in the sun,
              waiting for the ants to eat their way down to the source.

            When they are done,
                                      he will take up the paper-light wing bone,
                          cut three holes in it with a grass blade,

                                                                                              and blow…


Sure, it's an odd choice of what 'beautiful melodies' might be, but being odd is the joy of being on this earth, yes? Revel in it. 

The second poem arrived during a blizzard year in Iowa. I had a crap car. To make sure that I got to work in the morning when the temperature dropped below zero (Fahrenheit) I had to start the car up around 3AM. It's about work and time. Why are most of us trained to accept that the natural order of things is to spend most of our lives doing something we don't want to do?
I think it's apt to quote William Morris here:
"It has become an article of the creed of modern morality that all labour is good in itself; a convenient belief to those who live on the wealth of others."


                                                                             three AM, four AM Time

                                       to lace up the boots, creak of powdered snow

                                                                under the soles five dollars an hour, six

                           dollars an hour seven Force open the frozen car door,

                                                                slip behind the wheel eight hours a day, five

                       days a week Through the crystal windshield

                                                       a hooded figure moves porch to porch, clutching

                           a plastic bag to pass through these hours, so desperate

                                             for them to end Can’t shake this dream. Turn the key

                               there is a life out there, there is a life  –

                                                                    the way the dandelion releases its seed

                                                      when you whisper the right word    The car

                                         moans to life. Come dawn, I can make it to work.  

    (previously published in Hanging Loose Magazine)


All true. Hooded figure included. No symbolism required. 
The last poem is one of the first I ever wrote. It may be the first, writ back in the foggy ruins of time, Northeast Philly, when the world was young and pretty. I think it's self-explanatory.


Old man beckoned with an index finger

Wandered across his yard

Boots sunk in wet grass

Said he needed help

In his dark garage lifted a bag of cement

He thanked me

Left his driveway

Left wet boot prints

Never said a word

Never saw him before or since

Most honest work I ever did

(previously published in Lilliput Review)