Self Wrote a Story About Climate Change: “The Freeze”

Apocalyptic, Dystopian, blah blah blah

The world is slowly dying, and — there’s no way to explain why an old woman is the only one in her family who survives, and why she ends up riding piggy-back on a teen-age boy (Hunger Games Catching Fire was an influence. Definitely:  Finnick and Mags) and they decide to follow Highway 1 as far south as they can. No electricity, no cars, no telephones. Just — the very edge of despair. Funny, she writes science fiction but her stories are pretty low on the science. Maybe she should start referring to them as allegories.

It was probably the Russians. Putin called Obama’s bluff, or maybe it was the other way around. The outcome — we were the outcome.

How still he was in the last broadcast. His suit looked too big for him. His hair had gone entirely gray. Funny, Obama had been young just six years ago.

— published by Bluestem, Spring 2015 Issue

The Future: “First Life”

A short piece self wrote about a classroom of the future has been accepted by Juked.

This was the magazine that chose “The Hand” to win first place in their fiction contest, 2007.

Self still remembers when she got the call. She had to sit down. It seems like yesterday.

She never could have imagined that, eight years later, she’d be writing science fiction. She loves writing when she can play with the sound of the words, which is what she was trying to do with her story, “First Life”:

The human organism has proven itself completely willful. Narcissism results in confusion. My present condition.

And the consequences? The consequences of this confusion?

Well, extinction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Books for Ireland

Mary Gaitskill: BAD BEHAVIOR

Mary Gaitskill: BAD BEHAVIOR

Cassandra Clare: THE INFERNAL DEVICES TRILOGY

Cassandra Clare: THE INFERNAL DEVICES TRILOGY

Poetry, but of course

Poetry, but of course: Dionne Brand and Tomas Transtromer

Suzanne Collins: MOCKINGJAY (Self has read this book at least half a dozen times)

Suzanne Collins: MOCKINGJAY (Self has read this book at least half a dozen times)

AFTER: NINETEEN STORIES OF APOCALYPSE AND DYSTOPIA, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Wandling

AFTER: NINETEEN STORIES OF APOCALYPSE AND DYSTOPIA, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Wandling

and, last but not least:

George Eliot’s Middlemarch

Self is bringing along the following literary magazines as well:

  • Crab Orchard Review’s West Coast and Beyond Issue
  • Witness Magazine’s Spring 2015 issue
  • Bluestem Magazine’s Spring 2015 issue

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Moment in Mad Max When Tom Hardy Removes His Face Device

Lord, self never wanted to like Mad Max: Fury Road.

She saw the trailers and was — OMG, this movie’s been taken over by Charlize!

Not that self has anything against Charlize.

But seriously — there’s a reason this movie is called Mad Max. And that’s because it has to be about Mad Max. Later, Charlize can be in her own movie, and they can call it Imperator Furiosa.

Today, in Banff, took a class on book-making. Not writing — scrapbooking! (So nice to have non-verbal expression, for once! Also, the store was absolutely delightful, and so was the owner.) Wait a minute, self was about to write something about Mad Max. (Er, would you believe self has only seen a handful of movies this year? And it’s nearly half over! Must correct that situation pronto!)

Anyhoo, Tom Hardy. In that facial gear, self kept slipping up and thinking she was looking at Gerard Butler.

Not, however, when he finally succeeded in prying off the unholy device. And —

Ladies and Gentlemen, a new generation has arrived. His FACE, dear blog readers. THAT FACE.

Tom Hardy, you are so beautiful. After that, self never looked away from the screen once, not even while she was madly scribbling lines of dialogue into her take-everywhere notebook. She can barely decipher her scrawl now.

Self must also mention this other presence:  Nicholas Hoult. He plays a “War Boy” named Nux.

Okay, while not beautiful like Tom Hardy, he is moving. Self has seen him play a zombie, play a 12-year-old, play Jack in the Giant Beanstalk movie, and she always always finds him terribly easy to empathize with.

In fact, self would have to say the BEST lines of dialogue in this movie (What? There was dialogue? Hold on . . . Indeed there was! Not of the Shakesperean variety, mind you! But close, lol!)

For instance, somewhere in the middle of the movie:

Nux:  There’s high ground just beyond that thing.

Furiosa:  What thing.

One of the Brides:  He means the tree.

OMG, do you see what self means about the dialogue? It is economical, it is brisk, and it does the job!

Next line of memorable dialogue: Wives (aka Breeders) having a squabble. One wants to give up and return to her oh-so-unholy breeding activities. The other wives chase after her and tell her:

You. Are. Not. Thing.

Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Do dear blog readers know that self has a science fiction story set in a dystopian (apologies, but she has to use that word) future? And it is called Thing? It was published in the New Orleans Review, 2012.

Yes, you brides who are all played to great blank affect by possible real-life models: YOU ARE NOT THING.

Three cheers for George Miller for using such a great line in his movie.

And now to Nick Hoult’s lines:

I live.

I die.

I live again.

There was just something so nihilistic, so even Nietzsche about that line. About the movie, in fact. Captured the despair of the characters perfectly.

So, when the credits finally rolled, self waited to see those words:

DIRECTED BY GEORGE MILLER.

Well done, sir. If she were in a movie theatre alone, she would have clapped.

Stay tuned.

Broken: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is BROKEN:

  • Capture something broken:  broken windows and tools, an old window, a toy never fixed, and so on.

Each of the pictures below depicts something “broken” — whether it’s Anthony Burgess’s disturbing novel of social dysfunction in an England of the future ruled by thugs, A Clockwork Orange (the book was in a visual art exhibit at the Walter Phillips Gallery here in Banff), a preserved dinosaur head, or an installation representing America’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan:

Anthony Burgess's CLOCKWORK ANGEL

Anthony Burgess’s CLOCKWORK ANGEL — Ooops! Self means A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. Self’s got too much Infernal Devices on the brain, dear blog readers!

Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum at Drumheller, Alberta

Royal Tyrrell Dinosaur Museum at Drumheller, Alberta

Harriet Bart, American:

Harriet Bart: “Enduring Afghanistan” – map of Afghanistan rendered in dog tags, at the Walker Art Museum, Minneapolis

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Matthew Park’s Illustration for “The Freeze”

Lately, self has been writing science fiction in the apocalyptic vein.

She wrote a story called “The Freeze” which imagined a woman as the only survivor of a drastic temperature drop, who decides to abandon her home city of San Francisco and head south. Along the way, she encounters a band of teen-agers; they all somehow find each other while stumbling around in the dark. She joins their group. Keeping the Pacific Ocean to their right, the group heads for Mexico (What? You expected them to come up with a better plan? They’re all starving, freezing, and in semi-shock. Sorry, this was the best anyone could come up with)

The story’s been published on Bluestem (Spring 2015) but here’s the illustration Matthew Park did for self.

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

TheFreezecover_concept02-3

Bluestem, Spring 2015

Yay, Bluestem! They launched the spring issue at AWP 2015!

Here is the lovely Poetry Editor, Charlotte Pence, holding up a copy of the issue.

Self’s story of climate change, “The Freeze,” is in this issue. She just picked up her author’s copy today.

Exciting!

Charlotte Pence, Poetry Editor of Bluestem. Her poetry collection, MANY SMALL FIRES, was just published by Europa Press.

Charlotte Pence, Poetry Editor of Bluestem. Her poetry collection, MANY SMALL FIRES, was just published by Europa Press.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Self Wrote the Libretto for a Two-Act Opera!

Self wrote the libretto for a two-act opera.

Self doesn’t watch opera. But she is never one to let a little thing like not knowing anything stop her from writing!

Self’s composer/collaborator, Drew Hemenger, is sick, as self was before she left California. A few shots of chili-laced Szechuan soup near Harvard Square and she’s all better!

The world premiere of The Marife Suite is this Saturday, in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Boston is freezing cold. Self tried walking around Harvard Square this morning. CRAAAAP! She didn’t even make it five blocks. The wind and — ugh, ugh, ugh! Lips are chapped! Yikes! Hands look like wrinkled prunes!

She’s switching all her fan fiction (the ones that had Peeta as a Harvard undergrad) to Palo Alto.

So glad. Just so glad she chose to study in Palo Alto, where giant palm trees line the broad avenues etc. May the Heavens preserve us, she just can’t take this bitter Boston cold.

Self brought with her the libretto for The Making of the Representative for Planet 8, the opera by Philip Glass and Doris Lessing. Believe it or not, reading this libretto, six years ago, was what started self thinking that maybe, just maybe, she could pull this one off. Maybe she could actually write a full-length opera.

Lessing’s libretto combines two of self’s most enduring interests: science fiction and terse language. Here’s an excerpt from Act II Scene 4:

BELOW THE WALL

The people stand huddled together, waiting. Beside them is a great heap of insulating material.

The People (variously)
Like coats for houses.
In this new time of ours buildings must wear coats and skins.
Like us.

They sink down into the snow. Sit listlessly. Some go off to sleep.

Reading the above, self wonders how much of her story The Freeze, the one that’s coming out in Bluestem Magazine (It’ll be on sale at the AWP Book Fair. Yeessss!), consists of lingering echoes from The Representative for Planet 8. In self’s story, the temperature drops overnight, everything stops working, every living thing dies — except for huddled bands of starving people, who decide to head south.

Her story follows one intrepid band (teen-agers and one very old woman) who decide to follow Highway 1 to Mexico.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Depth 5: About Self’s Attachment to Books

Books, for self, are the ultimate uncharted territory.

The depth of her love for books knows no bounds.

She was running low on her copies of Ginseng and Other Tales From Manila and Going Home to a Landscape: Writings by Filipinas, but her publisher sent a box of those to Mendocino last week and they arrived safely.

Two other books: Mayor of the Roses and The Lost Language, are in Gallery Bookshop on Main Street. Those copies she signed.

Self ordered more copies of her books. They arrived from the publisher last week.

Self ordered more copies of her books. They arrived from the publisher last week.

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino: A shelf in the science fiction section (BATTLE ROYALE meets LORD OF THE RINGS)

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino: A shelf in the science fiction section (BATTLE ROYALE meets LORD OF THE RINGS)

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino

Gallery Bookshop, Main Street, Mendocino

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Still Reading “After the Cure”

It’s just one short story. But self is dragging it out, sentence by sentence.

Apparently they’ve found a cure for zombies that restores them to their human selves. They then call these rescued the “rehabilitated.”  That doesn’t help the narrator, a “rehabilitated” zombie who makes one friend, a boy named James.

He’s the reason she’s even contemplating attending school.

He visits her in her dwelling, an abandoned house on the edge of the city, the one with the floating body in the pool.

And – guess what. This boy drags a scent of human for the zombie pack to follow him.

What I don’t tell him is that I can already hear the pack pushing against the air outside the house. They know there’s someone pure inside.

I can already feel the way their mouths water for him.

At night, when they race past the house, is the loneliest I’ve ever felt. Except for now.

Oh Heavens to Mergatroid, please don’t let the pack eat James!

SPOILER ALERT — DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU ARE DENSE AND/OR NEVER INTEND TO READ CARRIE RYAN’S STORY!

Self is so slow on picking up clues. Even after she took that Hunger Games “How Long Would You Last as a Tribute” quiz that told her she’d last a day, self keeps forgetting how dense she is. So it comes as a total shock when the narrator decides that it’s too late to evade the rampaging zombie pack, she has to turn James into a zombie. In other words, she has to kill him herself.

Nooooooo !!!!!!!!!

Suddenly James is showing the narrator that he really really likes her (Self, is Twilight simply a distant memory? Apparently so) and — please believe self when she says that this scene is very very poignant, and not the least bit confusing, though she wishes the couple would address the immediate problem! Which is that a zombie mob is in the process of tearing down the door!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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