Monday, March 20, 2017

Short Activities

The last year's output has been mostly shorter, if not short, stepping down from "Death and the Maiden" at 22K words, and out in Feb. 2017, to a short story I finished for a Christmas deadline, about 9K words, titled "Not So Loud."
"Not So Loud" was written for a call for subs on the theme Gods and Monsters; I wasn't intending to do such, but one day around October I was raking leaves in the front yard when two voices suddenly shouted in my left ear, "It's a monster!" - "I tell you, it's a god!" What could I do?
Took a couple of months to figure who they were, where they were, who the narrator was, and what was going to happen to them all; a lot of it was either research or extrapolation for a "real" SF story - eg., what's the atmosphere on site, the gravity, the geology, if it's a planet what's the axial tilt, X-ray input, etc. etc. and then a lot of jiggering with the draft to tuck in all the loose ends. Only just made the submission deadline.
However, only just had the story bounced back when I saw another likely market. An indie called Schreyer Ink Publishing  was taking subs for an anthology then proposed on the theme of "Tolerance and Intolerance." The SF story, finally titled "Not So Loud," was more about the consequences of paranoia and clinging to outmoded stereotypes, but the consequences, I figured were close enough to try there as well.
Delightfully, the editor liked and accepted the story, conditional on getting enough good subs to float the antho. That's now happened, so I'm in the throes of a finicky format for the, we hope, final ms.
Meanwhile, a troll through possibles on the Facebook market page Open Call turned up an antho to be titled Strange Beasties. As usual, the Black Gang, aka the creative crew, first claimed to come up empty on any such idea. But then a chance look at a video of a monster glacier-calving lit a small but persistent fire in the cellar.
And now, I have in first draft an at-this-point 2.5K - really short - story: to be called either "Ice" or "Viewfiinder" unless some better title comes along.
Luckily the deadline for that, I think, isn't till June, so there's time to mess with it.

Meanwhile, just for interest's sake, here's the opening of "Not So Loud". I like this, if only because it follows one essential in my own recipe for good SF - no great indigestible data dumps.
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“It's a monster!”
“I tell you, it's a god!”
I could hear Hosea and Joel shouting a whole hillside away; a moment later, scraps of higher-pitched voice warned Eiluned was getting involved too. Batting my way through yet another so-called aloe thicket and up a stony watercourse, I finally sighted them, and tried to shout in an undervoice through my recorder, “Not so loud!”
Three flushed and glowering faces swung, environmental suits broadcasting untoward sweat and elevated pulses, and I hastily recited the First Reconnaissance Party protocol: “In unknown conditions in an untested environment, avoid firing weapons, damaging the surrounds, and creating a soundprint which may alarm or anger indigenous life.”
“Yeah, what life?” snorted Hosea. “Rocks and aloes and sure, micro-organisms and bacteria – come off it, Jupe!” Like most Old Terran descendants he pronounced my name as “Shoop.” “There's nothing in this rock-hole but relics.” He pointed at the shadowy recess,“And this one -!”
“I tell you, you're totally misreading it!” Joel shouted even louder. “It's not a monster, would anybody waste time and effort carving a monster into a shoulder-high petroglyph and putting it right in the only rain-proof shelter in fifty square kilomets -?”

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