Art by Bossu Finn. I wanted an R2 unit in the Dohvahkiin helmet from Skyrim. Dude delivered.
lucky is this bear
your eyes, honey to my soul
in spite of the bees
A drabble submitted to Singapore Unbound’s 1st Flash Fiction Contest. The prompt was “The Infinite Library.”
Varis, in the gray robe of a peer, raises a torch. There is no need. Above are impossible stars hiding a vaulted ceiling. Between the shelves are lanterns white. Licking cracked lips, Varis scans spines and checks a tea-colored map. He’s close. Soon he will find a gap among dark covers, where he will place a book before sliding down in exhaustion. His thoughts will toss downward, past the tomes between the walls, to the black ocean. There are shelves down there. Books preserved against the cold and miry, against man’s finding, writ on something enduring, driftwood maybe, on water.
A few years ago, Kasma Magazine published my scifi short, “Two Wings, Flightless,” a dragon-slaying quest set in a post-apocalypse. Tthe traditional winged lizard was replaced by an aircraft piloted by a hostile AI.
Kasma was a speculative magazine with beautiful art accompanying prose, but now, at least according to Duotrope, the publication has ended.
The magazine’s website concurs with this assessment.
For writers, this is the constant threat of having publications be digital-only (not that I will stop publishing digitally or anything). A physical print copy does wonders for the ego as well as permanency of a piece, although even print has its ephemeral nature. My story, “Two Wings,” also dealt with the ends of beautiful things.
Of course, this blog will too someday go extinct, whether it is by my death or distraction or poverty.
Originally, my friend and co-editor, Stuart Warren, was to lead Rune Bear‘s Quarterly Contest, but he didn’t know what he was doing and our visions for the magazine clashed (Stu saw this journal as an opportunity to publish only his and my work, while I wanted Rune Bear to follow a less narcissistic path).
After letting Stu go, I took over the defunct effort and implemented a drabble series with a $10 prize. One year later, so far, so good. We’ve completed four seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter) without any complications and are now cycling back into spring. Last season was our most successful submission period; the Quarterly received 53 drabbles.
My Oregon-bound friend Robin Stranahan has been creating the art to accompany our prompts, with the exception of the first contest, which featured a dragon and cowboy by Hari Nezumi.
Wanting a more consistent style, and after receiving fifteen stories about dragons snatching horses, we opted for Robin’s simpler, vaguer, and deeper imagery.
Here is her collection so far.
Prompt: Things that Live in Holes
Prompt: Dead of Winter
Prompt: Patch Notes Version 2.0
And, in accordance with our last prompt about scifi transhumanism, here’s to a weird, wonderful, unpredictable future!
In my pandemic distraction, I completely neglected to mention that InkQuills printed one of my flashes, “The Devil’s Ivy,” in an anthology of horror entitled Cryptid Encounters. The anthology was compiled by the wonderful Enakshi J., a poet, author, and blogger in India. Here’s her blog.
Cryptid Encounters is a collection of 13 speculative short stories “intended to scare, surprise, disgust, and startle.” Each piece has a similar conceit: a bizarre encounter and its aftermath. My included work, “The Devil’s Ivy,” draws inspiration from The Twilight Zone; the conceptual parallel of people encountering extraordinary beings with unkind motives will be obvious to fans of episodes like “To Serve Man” or “It’s a Good Life.”
Dynamic Synapse Protocol is on Amazon.
That’s how long it took to write my first novel.
And as they say, the first novel is the worst. (They should add so is the latest.) In three years, my manuscript went through multiple rewrites, a few cycles of beta readers, and now slinks in my hard drive, waiting to be deleted on accident. Or on purpose. Probably purpose.
In case you’re curious, Roco is a contemporary forest fantasy about a squirrel who goes on an adventure with a teenaged rune mage. The villains are a backwoods clan of snakes in the guise of people; their leader, called Mother, wants to slither inside the mage to take over her body and command her powers. Think Yeerks meet ancient serpent gods.
Most of the story centers on the rune mage’s escape through a swathe of forest and her burgeoning friendship with a helpful Western Gray (a relationship initiated by magic). The book culminates in a final showdown between the deuteragonists and the snakefolk, with the denouement setting up a sequel.
Mari and Roco by Mowkiii
What I earned after an endless three years was first-hand knowledge of how demoralizing writing a book can be.
Stuart J. Warren, of his-own-blog fame, wrote a book about a robot who activates in the wilderness and stumbles on an automated society. Humanity, apparently, has been wiped out completely, and this robot tries to adjust to a brave, new world of logic, code, ailing technology, and fervent racism against long-gone Creators.
My small contribution was as one of Stuart’s beta readers. Here’s the cover:
Dynamic Synapse Protocol is on Amazon.