Extra BONUS Seasonal Joy

Still not a story announcement, although I am gestating something that may emerge from my brow tomorrow.

…although now that I reflect upon it, this is a story announcement, in that a story I wrote is openly available on the internet. It’s just not here.

So where, then? It’s in the current issue of Polar Borealis. For those who want to know what they’re getting into, it’s a quite short work which is like Steampunk, but instead of focusing on engineering marvels, the point of historical divergence is funeral practices.

Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Inktober 2019 – Ancient

McAllister hated to run. She didn’t like it in in the moderate warmth of spring in Wisconsin. She found it morally objectionable in the crushing heat of the dig site, yards above sea level, in the perpetual summer of equatorial Africa. And yet, when Babatunde had described what he and the other grad students had found, running had seemed to be the appropriate response. She still didn’t like it, and liked it less with every step.

Babatunde, younger and at least theoretically used to the heat, although he had claimed the years in Wisconsin had taken his childhood callus off, rejoined the circle around the dig before she was half-way across. When she saw the collective body language of the dig team, she began to forget the heat.

Each previous discovery of some interesting artifact had made a similar cluster, as those facing the tedium of freeing yet another potsherd from nearly indistinguishable dirt sought a moment of novelty. But in all those cases, the formation was tighter, the urge to gawp surging like a tide against the generally informal training of archaeologists to watch where they were stepping. This group was wider, the ones at the front trying to shrink away, the ones at the back keeping them there as shields.

The faces, too, were arresting. Not the usual wonder of fresh discovery, or at least not that alone. If she didn’t know the context and was shown only the faces, McAllister would have called it religious awe, of the sort brimstone preachers wanted to induce.

Babatunde tapped shoulders, but didn’t try to lead McAllister through the hole in the formation. He let her pass, pointing to the low point they had made in a midden which had stopped stinking about the time people figured out how to make bronze.

It looked like just about anything else they’d found, its colour informed by the soil removed from around it, its shape wrenched askew by the pressure of increasing depth of burial and the effect of time. A box, was her first thought, and that was unusual enough. The people they were uncovering were big on baskets and bowls, but hadn’t appeared to be aware of joinery until now.

There was something familiar about that box, though, and McAllister carefully squatted to get a closer look. As she did, she noticed that the box appeared to have a little rack attached at one end, holding a jumble small rectangular items. She struggled to keep assumptions at bay when a small back-of-head voice suggested dice, but the things were familiar.

Familiar in a context she had almost forgotten, and when it came to her, she stumbled back, heedless of where her feet were going, until the other diggers were supporting her.

Archaeology was detective work, at its base. The lives of long-gone people were imperfectly revealed by the things and the bodies they left behind, and the situation in which those things were left. McAllister barely registered her own face adopting the same stunned amazement as the rest of her dig team as she tried to imagine how they might, using the principle of her discipline, explain the beige thing that lay before her.

McAllister began to weep, hardly noticing, in the face of what finding an Apple II under a layer of eight thousand year old cooking waste would mean for her discipline.

“Inktober 2019 – Ancient” ©2019 Dirck de Lint.

Soft Launch

Let me tell you a brief true story. In the fall of 2016, I had a story accepted by a long-running publication called AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review. This was within a fortnight of “The Third Act” being taken up by Trigger Warning, so as you can imagine I was absolutely overwhelmed by a sense of artistic achievement.

But the world does not like too much joy in it. Thus, some grudge-bearing (I assume) terrestrial tetrapod did the hacking equivalent of putting a shotgun to the back  of the head of AE‘s online facility. The site went down so soon after I sent back the edits that I thought I might have been to blame for it, and they weren’t able to even explain to the world what happened for weeks. That explanation was the beginning of a very long road to getting back online.

The return has been accomplished– a soft launch, at the moment, which I assume means “Sound the trumpets! Release the doves!” major official re-launch is in the near future… but I can’t wait for that because I’ve been waiting almost two years to say aloud that I have had a story published by AE!

As I did with my last external publication, I’m going to put a link in the sidebar for… a while… to make sure it’s accessible. I will also, as with the Pseudopod announcement last spring, express how amazed I am to find myself one of such a company of writers. There’s some very good writing there, and I urge anyone who goes there from here to linger, to wander through the stacks, and examine some of the other work, because your time will be rewarded with enrichment.

For my part, I’m going to have a long lie-down. All this jumping up and down, squealing with unalloyed glee, is rather tiring.

Small Consolation

Well… it appears that I should have reserved the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT until Pseudopod updated.  The schedule I was shown does, after all, have the word “tentative” in it.  Even if it did agree very well with the past couple of months’ worth of released up to Episode 590, I accept that stuff beyond human intervention will throw itself in the way.

So, we wait until the events predicted in BA come to pass.  It’s a delay, not (so far as I know, he said with a cringe and a glance toward a comforting contract) a cancellation.  In the meantime, here’s a little flash fiction I ran up, once again at the prompting of a famous profession writer guy— the theme is heroism’s consequences, and the story is The Savior.

I place it under speculative fiction because the setting is, purposefully, obscure, all the way down to which end of the political spectrum is involved.

Errors, great and small

The biggest error is one that a non-paying observer of the work here won’t have detected; the decision to adjust my frequency of output combined with an exhausting effort to return my home to a livable state reduced the length of preview window for patrons.  I apologized to them already via super-secret patron communication pathways, but I’ll admit culpability once more in the open.

The lesser error… in my eyes, anyway… is the use of a technical term as the title of the latest Current Story.  Harmonic Aliasing is not quite the right term for what goes on in the story, and I have no doubt that those who ponder analog/digital transfers in a profound way will find that this grates upon them.  I offer an apology on that front too, but you may also find an artist’s airy dismissal of pedantic nitpicking is crouching nearby, waiting to spring upon those who complain too loudly.

For those who like to know what a story is about before diving in, and that title doesn’t give much away, I’ll say this:  there is a quantity of talk these days about this current age being the last stages of pre-singularity humanity, and I’m certainly not immune to the influence of chatter.  The story is a glance in the direction of the transition from pre- to post-singularity, and because my thoughts tend to run in a particular direction, it would be fair to call it mildly alarmist.

Quivering, he steps into the light.

This exercise should not be as intimidating as I’m letting it be.  I have, after all, been keeping a blog long enough to run out of original thoughts.

Wait.  That may not be the right tone.  Pressing onward!

This is a somewhat different prospect than my long-standing effort to increase the amount of stream-of-consciousness nonsense cluttering up the servers of the world.  This is an effort to present myself as an author, someone who doesn’t just tip words out of his head, but who puts some time and effort into lining up what pitches out of that hole in his head, arranging it into pleasing, amusing, and even possibly-effective shapes.

Since the aforementioned running-out, I’ve been keeping the followers of my thoughts on the strange and arresting world of fountain pens and other outdated concepts up to date on my efforts to create short stories.  I have also, a couple of times, mentioned submitting these stories to publishers.  Thus far, no success, and I am informed that a part of my failure to impress is that I don’t already have a presence as an author in the world.  There is that blog, which is as fine an un-revised heap of mis-spelled words and poorly-braced sentences as one could hope to find.  It’s not, for want of a better word, polished.  There’s also the informational website I keep and intermittently add to, but that’s non-fiction (mostly).

A very little of my writing, the fun, carefully-handled fictional stuff I actually dignify with that term, has shown up on that earlier blog, placed as an penance offering to the followers there (I am mindful of your patience, folks).  That same material is, initially, what will show up here.  This is by way of priming the pump– once I have this thing’s engine running smoothly, the original material will start to flow.  Expect fresh things to appear by the end of this week, in fact.

Before presenting any of that writing, I’ll add an admission familiar to followers of my other blog: I am terrible at self-promotion.  The quivering mentioned above is not just from the prospect of dragging my tender tales out into the searing light of public scrutiny, but at the audacity of hoping people might actually pay to look at them.  Not just “some people”, the nebulous personification of editors and a greater reading public, but actual, discrete people– I’ve gone and set myself up on Patreon, hoping that some small bonuses for becoming a patron will move folks who enjoy the kind of writing I do to encourage me to keep at it.  If you’re that kind of people, pop on down that link.  The very least you will get out of it is an expression of gratitude.

Enough of that, though.  You’re not here for this, you’re here for stories.  The current story is “The Notes of Erich Zann,” which I chose as the inaugural entry here for a couple of reasons.  First, it is very nearly a fan-fiction, to the point that I wouldn’t think of submitting it to any publisher who wasn’t specifically calling for works picking up where something H.P. Lovecraft had done left off.  Second, it’s relatively big, and if I’m not putting something brand new out to test this new forum of mine, I should at least offer something meaty.

You will also find a few things in The Back Files, a few previously submitted or presented objects to keep it from being a yawning void while this enterprise if getting up to steam.  Because I do want to get off to a bang, “The Notes of Erich Zann” will be rotating into The Back Files in about a week, and a story never publicly presented before will take over the place of prominence.

I hope you’re as excited as I am, if not quite as nervous.