Self’s Speculative Fiction: Short on Science, Long on Speculation

Self’s science fiction may be a little short on the science, but it has everything to do with story-telling.

She is thinking about her stories today because last week she was in San Francisco and popped into Borderlands, the Science Fiction Bookstore on Valencia. So wonderful to browse! Self saw many, many books she wanted to read. There were new books from China Mieville, Joe Hill, and Jo Walton, to name a few.

Borderlands, Valencia Street, San Francisco: All Science Fiction, All Fantasy, All the Time

Borderlands, Valencia Street, San Francisco: All Science Fiction, All Fantasy, All the Time

This is the problem with going to a bookstore: self ends up leaving with loads of books that she then has to pack into a suitcase and then haul that suitcase around on her travels and the experience is just painful.

Anyhoo, self had been thinking for quite a while of starting to put together a new collection, and is leaning more towards having it all be science fiction. She might lead off with “Spores,” which her friend Morgan Cook turned into an MP3 Audio File, early this year.

This excerpt is from “Spores” (Trigger warning: profanity)

“Me mum’s a thick,” K said once. “A fecking thick. A root rotter.”

“Hit brew and all?” I asked.

“12 pints one go, honest,” K said. She silent the rest of the day.

I grew weary of K.

Self’s story “First Life,” published by Juked in July, is again “nothing but strange,” to quote from The first sentence:

Ever since they moved our colony from Tonle Sap to the Philippines, my mind hasn’t been the same.

And then there’s “Thing,” which came out in the New Orleans Review in 2012, about Animal Rehabilitation Center, Sector 6, where the results of heinous lab experiments are tended to by a rag-tag group who are barely human themselves.

And “Magellan’s Mirror,” which J Journal published and nominated for a Pushcart (The Philippines populated by a race of giants)

And “Vanquisher,” which self wrote as a sequel to “Magellan’s Mirror,” in which Juan de Salcedo turns into a kind of vampire.

And there’s “The Forest,” about a man whose wife has just let him, and whose sister offers, out of the kindness of her heart, to turn him into a spotted deer or an eagle.

And there’s “Ice,” which is set in a future Earth whose surface is covered with ice:

Out there, ice caps, cold as knives.

Steam from her mouth, his mouth, none from the boy who lay between them. She knowing what but not able to bear it.

And of course, “The Freeze,” in Bluestem Magazine early this year, in which a woman loses her entire family when a catastrophic freeze descends on the planet (The rumor is that the Russians started it) and decides to walk to Mexico.

And “The Departure” (2011 Honorable Mention in Ellen Datlow’s annual Best of Horror list), in which a woman looks up at the sky just in time to see a giant hand appear and go left to right, the gesture of a teacher erasing a blackboard. Next thing she knows, her face has sprouted glass.

And her short short “The Ark,” in which Noah is unbelievably cruel to the animals under his care.

And “Sofia,” in which a woman is visited by her great-great-grandfather, to tell her she is . . . (No spoilers here)

And her piece in Witness, about a man who is the last living person on Earth to have actually tasted a mango.

And she has other stories: stories about “breeder” sweaters (Women wear the sweaters to help them conceive) and lonely Cyclops (“I Am Cyclops,” published in Lillian Howan’s Nimbus Cat)

And another about the lost city of Atlantis, discovered 1715 (“Residents of the Deep”)

And another story called “The Great Emptying of the Three Triangles” which is a Power Point presentation on desertification.

And another called “Harvest” in which a young girl’s mother walks around all day dressed in nothing but a mink coat and her best friend vanishes from a field during an insect harvest.

And another called “Eating” in which a girl’s mother forces her to eat and eat and eat until the girl feels she is about to die.

And another called “Appetites” in which a girl sends her nanny off into the wide, wide world to search for a particular delicacy the girl wants to taste (This one’s published on Café Irreal)

And “Isa,” which is about the last two remaining islands on Earth (published by Rogue Magazine in their Bacolod issue).

And one in which a Fetch appears to a father mourning the loss of his daughter.

And one about a dictator’s Special Research Project (This one’s included in her first collection, Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila)

Phew! Too many stories to list.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Most Embarrassing Day of Self’s Life

Self was in Shannon Airport, Galway. She heard the PA system come on, and someone say xxxxxx please come to the security counter.

If she’d had her wits about her, she’d have known that the name coming over the PA system was her fan fiction pen name. And there’s no way in heck that there can be two people with that same name anywhere in the universe.

But self is so stupid. At that moment, she just thought, “Huh! Guess I’m not as unique as I thought I was!” And continued reading People Magazine.

Until it came time to board the plane, and self thought, Might as well take out the laptop before I have to stow my carry-on in the overhead bin.

She reached down, to the place where she always keeps her laptop securely tucked away, and gasped.

The space was . . . space.

Self couldn’t believe it. She must have stared at her carry-on for a full minute. Then, it suddenly dawned on her: the name over the PA system! That was HER the security people were calling!

She barreled down the airport corridors, going first the wrong way, doubling back, and when she finally reached the security checkpoint, there was a group of men there, looking at self with a very odd expression on their faces. It’s as if the men were thinking: So is that — ? It can’t be!

Then, self put two and two together and realized: she’d been working on the latest chapter of her fan fiction. It was on the screen. That’s why the security people knew her fan fiction alias. And they must have read some of the story, too. And self just wanted to die. Die! Die!

With as much dignity as she could muster, self identified herself, retrieved her laptop, and returned just in time to board her plane, sweat streaming from every pore.  Too bad for her seatmates, two young guys who looked thoroughly disgusted at self’s ripe smell as she plopped down into her seat, red-faced and absolutely shattered by her near-death experience. These young men were so cute, so adorable, so attractive and sweet-smelling, that self wanted to curl up into a ball and apologize for her dishevelment, for her bad smell, for everything, for being picked to sit beside them, for ruining the start of their trip, for her very existence.

When we arrived at the first stopover, which was Heathrow, both young men jumped from their seats so fast, self didn’t even have time to ask Please kind sirs could you retrieve self’s carry-on bag from the overhead bin seeing as you’re almost twice self’s height and your biceps are extremely toned ?

She was still so discombobulated by the fact that five security men in Shannon Airport in Galway knew her fan fiction pen name. How could she be so stupid? That is the last time, the very last time, she writes fan fiction in an airport.

For the record, this is what self looks like, for REALS. Now you know why the security people at Shannon Airport in Galway could not reconcile her actual self with the fan fiction writer whose chapter they (had probably) just finished reading.

Photo on 8-21-15 at 1.13 PM

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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