After months of work by all involved, I am thrilled to announce the publication of This Human Condition: A Collection of Flash and Micro Fiction. If you’d like to get your hands on a copy, you can view it online ordownload in several formats. It is also available via Smashwords. I hope you’ll all take a moment to read it, and to visit the websites of the contributing authors.
“The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”
“You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”“Why, what did she tell you?”“I don’t know, I didn’t listen.”
“He reached out and pressed an invitingly large red button on a nearby panel. The panel lit up with the words Please do not press this button again.”
“It is important to note that suddenly, and against all probability, a Sperm Whale had been called into existence, several miles above the surface of an alien planet and since this is not a naturally tenable position for a whale, this innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity. This is what it thought, as it fell:Ahhh! Woooh! What’s happening? Who am I? Why am I here? What’s my purpose in life? What do I mean by who am I? Okay okay, calm down calm down get a grip now. Ooh, this is an interesting sensation. What is it? Its a sort of tingling in my… well I suppose I better start finding names for things. Lets call it a… tail! Yeah! Tail! And hey, what’s this roaring sound, whooshing past what I’m suddenly gonna call my head? Wind! Is that a good name? It’ll do. Yeah, this is really exciting. I’m dizzy with anticipation! Or is it the wind? There’s an awful lot of that now isn’t it? And what’s this thing coming toward me very fast? So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide sounding name like ‘Ow’, ‘Ownge’, ‘Round’, ‘Ground’! That’s it! Ground! Ha! I wonder if it’ll be friends with me? Hello Ground![dies]Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.”
“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much – the wheel, New York, wars and so on – whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man – for precisely the same reasons.”
“Seventy-five thousand generations ago, our ancestors set this program in motion,” the second man said, “and in all that time we will be the first to hear the computer speak.”“An awesome prospect, Phouchg,” agreed the first man.“We are the ones who will hear,” said Phouchg, “the answer to the great question of Life…!”“The Universe…!” said Loonquawl.“And Everything…!”“Shhh,” said Loonquawl with a slight gesture, “I think Deep Thought is preparing to speak!”
“Er … Good morning, O Deep Thought,” said Loonquawl nervously, “do you have … er, that is…”“An answer for you?” interrupted Deep Thought majestically. “Yes. I have.”The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting had not been in vain.“There really is one?” breathed Phouchg.“There really is one,” confirmed Deep Thought.“To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything?”“Yes.”Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children.“And you’re ready to give it to us?” urged Loonquawl.“I am.”“Now?”“Now,” said Deep Thought.They both licked their dry lips.“Though I don’t think,” added Deep Thought, “that you’re going to like it.”“Doesn’t matter!” said Phouchg. “We must know it! Now!”“Now?” inquired Deep Thought.“Yes! Now…”“Alright,” said the computer and settled into silence again. The two men fidgeted. The tension was unbearable.“You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought.“Tell us!”“Alright,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…”“Yes…!”“Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought.“Yes…!”“Is.” said Deep Thought, and paused.“Yes…!”“Is.”“Yes…!!!…?”“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.It was a long time before anyone spoke.
Treasure Hunt Tuesday, week seven. You might wonder why I’m keeping track of the weeks; its a way to pleasantly surprise myself with my own follow-through. Sure, we all know that this blog is just for fun, but sometimes its nice to be reminded of what you have achieved. I’m not sure if its all enjoyment, though- where did the weeks go? I’d continue on that tangent, but its early and I’m not certain I’ve had enough coffee for the really deep thoughts. So, on to the Treasure Hunt!
“Yeah, he’s about five-ten and has huge blue eyes, thick blond hair and more teeth than Antonio Banderas. Not skinny, just fit, you know?”
I began to choke on my Pepsi. She had just described her father without realizing it. Christ on the couch of life, Freud breathes and Oedipus did the CPR. She was going to get her little heart broken-I knew it. I struggled to maintain my composure, steadfast at the wheel, as we sailed into the treacherous, uncharted waters of romance.
Every time I read this particular scene- from Dorothea Benton Frank’s Sullivan’s Island- I laugh out loud. Perhaps its because I’m the mother of a teenage daughter as well as someone who can appreciate the ingenuity of including a reference to Christ, Freud and Oedipus in a single, blasphemous quip.
I’ve read several of Frank’s books, all of which I’ve enjoyed. She has an ability to express a picture of the south that rings true even where I live, which is surprisingly similar to the Low Country she writes about in her books. Her characters could have been my neighbors growing up, which makes it that much easier to slip into the world she creates.
Another simple quote from the same book that I love comes during a scene full of grief over the loss of a loved one.
She put her cup on the night table, extended her arms to me and sighed a sigh that sucked in the whole room and then blew it all away. Shakily, I leaned over her bed and kissed her on the cheek. She smelled like sweat and old perfume.
I can’t think of a better reason to choose these words as this week’s Gem- words that can immerse you in a scene- or in a feeling, like the second quote- should always be considered a treasure.
I know, I know, I know. I’m late. I never posted the Thursday Talkabout. Does it help if I make excuses? I have an laundry list of them ready for you- I got busy and the day got away from me, I was working, it was the season finale of Burn Notice (oh, Fiona, how I adore thee!), it was bedtime before I knew it…I can go on. No? Okay, then let’s just move past it.
The truth is, I was going to post about a ‘Mainstream’ blog, one over on MSNBC, and the delay actually led to an interesting new post over there. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
This week’s Talkabout Blog is the Cosmic Log, something most of my family and friends have never heard of. Its a lesser known part of the MSNBC website, but one of the highlights. If you’ve never come across it before, it’s written by Alan Boyle, a winner of the AAAS Science Journalism Award, the NASW Science-in-Society Award and other honors; a contributor to “A Field Guide for Science Writers”; and a member of the board of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Rather than bore you with a list of reasons I love to read Boyle’s blog, I’m going to simply share this, an excerpt from today’s Cosmic Log:
“Last weekend, an eminent panel of theorists (including myself) gathered to reflect upon “cannibalistic socks” and other riddles at the SpoCon science-fiction and fantasy convention in Spokane, Wash. I think we may have made as much headway as the Solvay Conference did back in Einstein’s day. Here’s the rundown on our results:
Where disappearing socks go
Some people have suggested that socks go missing in the laundry because a space-time warp somehow transforms them into belly-button lint and dust bunnies that appear out of nowhere. That’s only half-right. Take a look at this diagram of the modern clothes dryer, then note the similarity to this picture of the ATLAS detector at Europe’s Large Hadron Collider. Is that mere coincidence?
I didn’t think so.”
Interestingly enough, had I posted this Talkabout yesterday (you know, like I was SUPPOSED to..lol) we would have had a totally different topic and the quote would have been more like this:
“Scientists are improving their technique for bending DNA into origami shapes. The latest twist uses custom-made chemicals to turn bunches of molecules into smoothly curving circlets and gears – a trick that eventually could set the stage for practical nanomachines.”
Since today’s topic was much more entertaining, I’ve begun to wonder. Do you think it was a ripple in the space-time continuum that caused me not to post yesterday? Some Dr. Who- like stroke of luck that aligned my procrastination with the forces of the universe, creating just the right atmosphere for a better blog? Perhaps, my friends, perhaps.
On a side note, I’ve been thinking a lot about those nanomachines. At first they creeped me out (yay for scientific advances, but I’d like to avoid living out I, Robot, thanks!) Then I decided that if they can proof and edit manuscripts, I’m in!
All kidding aside, the Cosmic Log is a wonderful place to visit on your coffee break, a source of inspiration and education that, as a writer, I see as wonderful fodder for the next great Sci-Fi tale!