Tuesday Photo Challenge: CONNECT

The Challenge:

What the world needs now… No, I’m not breaking out into a Hal David and Burt Bacharach pop tune! During this time of social distance, it is more important than ever that we connect with one another. I thought the theme of Connect might make a lot of sense. So, your challenge is to capture anything that either connects or with which you feel connected. 

Self deliberately searched for pictures that show connection despite absence of people,  as a way to honor Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “shelter in place” order for California, her home state.

We will get through this!


A London Bridge


This copy of David Copperfield was read over 60 nights in a cave during Captain Scott’s expedition to the Antarctic: On exhibit in the Charles Dickens Museum, London


Fowey Hall, Cornwall, May 2019

Stay tuned.

“Spores”: Part I

This story, originally published August 2016 in decomP, is one of self’s favorites. decomP is no more, so self will post the story here, in sections. The story’s about violence, how it roots. How there are classes, even in the future. Earthstar is top class, and they can mate with Silverleafs. The bottom of the class hierarchy are Common. And the worst thing you can call another person is “lousy hedgehog.” (lol)

She was reading a book on mushrooms at the time. Which is how she got the idea for the story title. Because it’s about reproduction. In a world where humanity is dwindling.

Self loves playing with language. She wrote this story in Dublin. She’ll post Trigger Warnings in the later sections.

K thinks the boss is in love with her.

She looks like a mosaic puffball, her skin covered with checkered patterns.

The boss was born Earthstar. He’d never look her way. His spores were meant to go else: to a Silverleaf. Or a Shag. Not K that smelled like wet rot. All scaly cap and throat gills. She belonged with other Common.

Varnish and varnish. I’ll say this for K: she is tenacious. Especially about her delusions.

“Me mum’s a thick,” she said once. “A focking thick.”

“Hmmm,” I said.

“She a root rotter,” K said.

“Hit brew and all?” I asked.

“Twelve pints one go. Honest,” K said.

K silent the rest of the day.

I’m weary of K. We have the worst job: growing giant polyphores, thousands and thousands of them, in little paper fans studded with 4-micron ova. The fans burn our fingers. Burn like sulphur. We have to wait hours for the new skin to grow back. Fingers never feel the same, after.

We can’t leave the room until Growing’s over. That means days. We’re the slowest team in the whole White Zone, the boss says. Probably even the slowest in the whole planet.

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack. Where those words come from, I don’t precisely know.

“We be needing foxes,” I say once.

“You lousy hedgehog,” the boss says, giving me a good one. My right eye swells up almost immediately.

“You not be asking me to fetch, you lousy Common!” He gives me another good one on the way out.

K trembling there in the corner.

Part 2 posted here.

Approaching a Quarantined Planet


Permission to approach the
planet is denied. Any attempt
to do so will be met with lethal
force as per scientific devolved
powers. Isolation of experi-
mental habitat is paramount.
You are respectfully requested
to alter your course effective


The entity that communicates with the humans is Dr. Kern.

She has a parallel personality, Eliza Kern, who is mad.

The text is presented in two columns for each communication.

Love, truly love, Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Children of Time.

Stay tuned.

Self Writes 16th Century

Self wrote the below section in a tone deliberately deadpan. It’s from her novel, Camarote de Marinero: Voyages.

An archivist to a young missionary who is shortly to depart Spain for the Philippines (1597):

  • As regards your health. The only hospitals are in Manila. You will be ill, but there is no help. There are two seasons, the dry and the wet. Fever is common during the wet season.

Holsten Mason, Making It Up As He Goes Along

Children of Time 2.5: All These Worlds Are Yours

Holsten is a “classicist,” a linguist, but his knowledge of dead languages is what enables him to communicate with “evolved” spiders, go figure! (It’s either evolved spiders or the back-from-cryogeny Dr. Kern. Self will go with spiders, it’s more fun to imagine)

Part of the reason self loves this book so much is that she really feels there is something at stake, and that’s mostly because of Holsten. He is so sure of himself that he tells the spiders the whole history of the Earth and how it died:

. . . he told Kern why they could not go back: because of the war, the Empire’s war from thousands of years before. For so long, scholars had taught that the further the ice receded, the better for the world, and yet nobody had guessed what poisons and sicknesses had been caught up in that ice, like insects in amber . . .

There is no returning to Earth, he sent to the pensively silent satellite. In the end, we could not counterbalance the increasing toxicity of the environment. So we built the ark ships. In the end all we had was old star maps to guide us. We are the human race. And we’ve had no transmissions from any other arks to say that they’ve found anywhere to stay. Doctor Avrana Kern, this is all we have. Please may we settle on your planet?

Stay tuned.

Self’s Dystopia

From First Life (Juked, July 2015)

Ku Ling’s Rule: First Life began in the Dome.

Nervous? Her asked.

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



Children of Time and Virus

Children of Time is about virus. A deliberately created one. One that’s to be dropped on carefully selected planets to meld with whatever (monkeys?) to produce better beings (even if non-human)

The planets are terra-forming because Earth is on a straight arrow to self-destruction.

(A little bit too close to home, whatever)

There is a human, Sering, “the volunteer, the man they were going to leave behind. He would orbit their planet-sized laboratory as the long years turned, locked in cold sleep until the time came for him to become mentor to a new race of sentient primates.”


This is why self adores science fiction. So close to her present, always.

The man wishes “to say a few words” before he is dropped from the Mother Ship in a Sentry Pod (Tchaikovsky’s world-building is really ace. Also, his last name is so distracting because she keeps wanting to look him up on Wikipedia. To see if he’s a grandson or great-grandson of the composer)

Since “it would be his last contact with his species for a long time,” the commander of the mission, a Dr. Kern, permits it. Ooooops!

Stay tuned.

Revising Ch. X of CAMAROTE DE MARINERO (98k Words, Novel)

Chapter X of Camarote de Marinero

Who Owns This Island?

The Philippines, 1652

The soldiers spotted Ka Bukay, standing uncertainly at the edge of the forest. Ka Bukay had taken the precaution of laying down his bow and arrows.

“You there!” a soldier called out to Ka Bukay. “Who owns this island?”

Ka Bukay knew Spanish, for he was intelligent and besides had worked on a mission on the next island, before coming home to Isla del Fuego.

“God,” Ka Bukay answered.

“No,” the tall soldier responded. “Spain owns this island.”

1579: An English Privateer Loots the Nuestra Señora de la Concepcion, a Manila Galleon

from self’s novel Camarote de Marinero: Voyages (in-progress, about 90k words at the moment)

Whereupon five of our Spanish warships were sent to hunt for him, but he refit somewhere on the Northern Pacific coast, where he befriended the natives, who sheltered him a month before he struck out again, for the Moluccas, and eventually home.

Stay tuned.


Sentence of the Day: Self’s Own

From her novel Blue Water, Distant Shores, which she is re-naming Camarote de Marinero: Voyages

(Also, self is considering not going to AWP, for it would be such a distraction. No kidding. All she would end up doing is hole up in her hotel room, writing. Which she can very well do at home. But ooops, she’ll be charged a penalty. Aargh)

Trigger Warning: Run-On Sentence

To Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth I

From Martin de Rasa, Viceroy of New Spain

June the 8th, 1579

A Relation of the Circumstances of the Loss of the Nuestra Señora de la Concepcion

80 pounds of gold, 26 pounds of silver, 13 chests of silver coins, and jewels (pearls, jades, rubies, and other precious stones) for which the residents of Manila demand restitution. For that cargo was intended for the Audiencia, and other vital instruments of government in these Islands. And now the soldiers must go unpaid, and are close to mutiny.

But, truly, Viceroy of New Spain, why should Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth I care if Spanish soldiers are close to mutiny? lol

Self has just introduced SIR FRANCIS DRAKE into her narrative.

Stay tuned.

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