Feminism + Bicycles + Fiction — How You Can Help Support One or All

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My Feminist Family on the Prairie (yes, men can be feminists, too)

Believe it or not, there is a connection between feminism, bicycles, and fiction. Witness the fiction anthology Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures from Microcosm Publishing, an anthology now in its fourth incarnation. I am proud to be an author in the fourth Biketopia, and I’ve got a favor to ask on behalf of all the authors and the publisher.

But first, a little bit about the latter. Microcosm Publishing, whom you can find on Duotrope, on their Web site, and all around the social media sphere, occupies a subversive publishing space—if feminism, LGBT rights, veganism, mental health, and a punk attitude qualify as such. Book titles upcoming or already published by this Portland, Ore., company include: Trump: A Graphic Biography; Cats I’ve Known; Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk in Rockford, IL, 1973-2005; Bikequity: Money & Class; and The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism. For myself, I was drawn to a publishing company that’s been around more than 20 years and supports women who write while making a statement of engagement with our environment, politics, music, feminism, do-it yourself, relationships, and so much more.

Support a Feminist Fiction Endeavor (That I Happen to be Included In)

But there’s a small hitch to Biketopia four. It’s not completely funded. Not yet.

This is where you come in!

There’s a crowdfunding campaign at this very moment to ensure it makes its way into the world. Featuring 11 stories and a batch of reviews that are dystopian or sometimes even utopian,  Biketopia: Feminist Bicycle Science Fiction Stories in Extreme Futures awaits full funding.

I cannot speak for the authors in this anthology, but as a writer among their number, I can say that my story focuses on a dystopian future in arid, desolate Colorado. Inspired possibly by subliminal crossflow from too many “Twilight Zone” marathons, I wrote about a protagonist who owns and runs a dusty diner alone but for two canine sidekicks. Then, she meets someone, and everything changes from there. So, pretty simple plot, without giving too much away.

Looking at the other story synopses, I am stoked to read Biketopia four, which includes a few comics within as well. Here are a few story blurbs from the Kickstarter fundraising page:

  • In the solarpunk future, will robots have rights, too?
  • What is the secret behind some people’s seemingly random plague immunity, and is it okay for them to take your bike?
  • When your health is closely monitored during a pregnancy, who gets to decide if bicycling is healthy or dangerous for your unborn child? (text by Microcosm Publishing)

May the Fourth Be With Us, and How You, Too, Can Submit

Please consider supporting Biketopia four via the Kickstarter drive; with a minimum of $10 you get the latest anthology. With a donation of $25 or above, you get all four Biketopia anthologies. The goodies abound, with a variety of levels from which to chose.

I’d be ever so pleased, not just for myself but for the mission of Microcosm, if you’d consider donating to the campaign and checking out Microcosm’s site. In addition to the previous book titles mentioned in the intro, you’ll see that MP offers up ezines to coloring books to stickers for your bike and all kinds of books including self-help and vegan recipes inspired by Morrissey (whose band, The Smiths, are no relation to me, sadly).

Finally, Biketopia five is, ahem, gearing up for action, too. Through March 1, you can submit your feminist-inspired science fiction (though you need not be female or identify as such) stories of 2-6K words, to Biketopia five, with a theme of “Intersections.” In fact, they say “We especially welcome submissions from writers of color and transgender and nonbinary writers, and seek stories that portray more diverse perspectives than are classically found in sci fi.”

So, get on that seat and ride your creativity into worlds unimagined!

The Arrival—and, Yes, I’m Still Alive

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Election results got you down, Leigh?

Reports of my demise have been exaggerated, I’m afraid. In fact, there I am over at the right, looking pensive, as opposed to looking Pence-ive, which is just gross.

Over the last five weeks or so that I’ve not blogged, I’ve been both working hard and hardly working. A new job—copywriting—is occupying a lot of my time so I haven’t gotten to do much creative writing (or responding to your blogs) of late. In fact, in terms of fiction, I submitted only five pieces for publication in January.

But amid the flus and allergies and product descriptions and torn knee-parts (husband, not me) and holidays, I’ve managed to get my second horror fiction piece published in a free ezine newly rechristened as Shotgun! Strange Stories, a publication of DeadLights Horror Fiction Magazine. I’d call the story, Volume 2, Issue 2 (27 January 2017; cover depicts two skeletons at a door and says “Featuring ISOLATED written by Kyle Lybeck”) a radical departure from my typical protagonist: this character is a right bastard, I think my British friends would say. Possibly with no redeeming qualities, but I hope the story manages to convey . . .  something. I’ll leave that something up to the individual, however!

I received several book-gifts for the holidays (the very best kind of gift), from poetry to short story collections to biography (Phil Collins, I’m looking at you, against all odds).

So-so-sodio (you have to sing it), I just wanted to give a brief update and a swift kick in my own tuchus. I am hereby making a half-way commitment to blogging two times a week. I’m sure you’re all thrilled, yes? 🙂 Two, yes two. These posts could be anything. Fence posts. Post offices. Post cereal.

Moving along . . .  I’ve been trying to save my dollars and pounds to support indie authors like some of you (I wish it were more; I truly do). Hence, the latest arrival.

Let’s all celebrate some good fiction-writing  . . .  c’mon!

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Congratulate, cajole, coax, consult, or converse with Hugh at his blog, Hugh’s Views and News, where you can also get this book (a short story collection chock-full of horror, science fiction, weirdness, and drama galore).

Way to go, Hugh, as to all of you living the creativity dream. I’ll see you around.

~Leigh~

Want to read good stuff and enter to win more? Then I’ve got your giveaway right here

. . . to have a larger perception of surrounding facts, and to care for knowledge that was tinged with the unfamiliar.—Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

Well, friends and new visitors to The Wordsmithery, the time has come for me to do some self-promoting and I’d like to offer you something in return for reading my latest work (beyond my continual wellspring of gratitude, which you already have access to). If I could offer this small token to each of you, I would.

That said, in conjunction with the launch of the Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires #steampunk

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You can buy me NOW!

#horror anthology that I have a story in now, I’m taking part in an author tea party on Sunday, 30 October, from 2 to 6 p.m. CST.

If you have a spare moment, I and the other Continue reading

Flash Fiction: The Girl Who Floated

Welcome to another wonderful week! If you read that aloud, curiously (or not), you might find that you insert a letter w even before you say another. I think that’s some phonological process—perhaps elision and combination—rather than the power of visual suggestion impinging on auditory response.

But anyway, it’s October. One of my favorite times of the entire year in this (supposedly) temperate climate’d place.

Lately it hit me that, even though I’ve submitted to plenty of hidden markets (so to speak), I haven’t shared any original fiction with y’all in quite awhile. *But I do hope to bring you an interview with a guest author and more ethereal fiction in the next two weeks.*

Here’s a short piece directly inspired by last week’s Friday Fictioneers. If you have never participated in or even heard of Friday Fictioneers, you are tasked with crafting a true, complete story (fiction or nonfiction; I think I’ve seen the occasional prose poem, too) in 100 words or less that is inspired by the photographic prompt.

Because I think I technically missed the previous FF, I will post my take-off story with a different photo that hews a little more closely to my theme, but be sure to visit Rochelle at FF as often as you can.

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This enthralling still-life photo was created by Ahborson and placed on MorgueFile for download. I urge you to support this self-described “Chaotic Neutral Hippy fairy goth pirate thinger with a pronounced artistic complex” and the other artists there, and if you read this, Ahborson, please do let me know if I’ve misunderstood MorgueFile’s terms of use.

The Girl Who Floated

My assistant scuttles after me in the archive. She calls herself Hera, but truly she’s a standard L7 model drone. They’ve given themselves names to assimilate better.

It’s been ages since we salvaged any so-called Earth junk, maritime or otherwise, so I’m pleased to find an appropriate display cube in the Musk Museum’s Detritus collection. With any luck, one of our resident cosmic-folk artists will ask to use some of the specimens we’ve archived.

A curator can hope.

But then, on one scheduled sweep, we found the girl. Just floating out there.

Sans oxy-suit. Sans memory.

And alive, very alive.

Will the Board of Directors vote to process the artifact and put her in a containment cube? Can I comply with such a directive?

The suspense gnaws through my bowels even now.

### THE END ###

For more, you can also follow/tweet me at @1WomanWordsmith

The Wordsmith’s Weekly Wramble in Words and Pictures

It’s been awhile, but as I love October, the time seems ripely right. So, another catch-all post. I’m considering doing the 6.66 days of horror fiction at the end of the month as well—and maybe even NaNoWriMo—but we shall see.

Think of this as a kind of Monday Markets, although it isn’t. Hope you enjoy what could be the beginning of a more consistent and beautiful blogging and reading relationship . . .

The Wordsmith’s Weekly Wramble

Publications & Awards (you, me, and any every-body*)

  1. MY SHORT STORY “MUZZLING THE MONSTER” IS BEING PUBLISHED at the end of this month, in a steampunk and horror anthology called Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires (by Mocha Memoirs Press), and I’m thrilled and honored to be included. I literally cannot wait to see what the ghost-gears-grimoiresother storytellers have concocted for the book. And, in a first in my writing career, there’s even a creepy, cool trailer for this anthology, designed by the talented Terry Phillips. I’ll let you know as soon as I know acquisition details (sounds like something a Ferengi would be interested in, eh?).
  2. THERE’S ALREADY A TON of books out there, right? But you don’t want to waste your time with poorly edited or conceived works either. Thankfully, that is far from the case here. Although I am biased in the sense of having been a beta reader of this book (and her previous one), I am once again happy to champion Sarah Potter’s speculative fiction offering, this one christened Noah Padgett and the Dog-People. (I also hope to have Sarah over to the blog very soon, as her schedule allows!) Although NPATDP is aimed squarely at middle-grade readers (or accelerated 7-10 year olds), there’s every chance as an adult you will enjoy this romp through the world of Canis sapiens, in a dimension something like ours but curiously tipped. Will the human boy, Noah, make it out of Zyx alive? Do tell! . . .  I’ve done a review over at Amazon, and you lucky folks & blokes in the UK can get a deal on the book right now, with free delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books. So, whatever are you waiting for?
  3. HAVE YOU READ? Resident WordPress poet Robert Okaji has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, for his poem “Two Cranes on a Snowy Pine”! Even though Bob might profess to be an ordinary person—and they, too, can be nominated for and win a Pushcart!—his diction, structure, and nimble enjambment techniques boggle the brain. Do check out his latest offerings at his blog, “O at the Edges.”
  4. PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR! WordPress humorist and author Hugh Roberts is releasing a book in early December 2016. If you’re a reader of Hugh’s blog, you know that some speculative fiction and otherwise wacky, wild, and wee-urd jellybabies (I mean, stories) await! More on all that Welsh Winter Wonderfulness at Hugh’s post, and you’ll find a slew of other books to add to your lists (chosen by Hugh).

 

Markets & Other Interesting Things

Depending on your time, desired compensation, experience, genre, word count, and so on, markets are your bread and butter. Your mead and meat. Your nectar and ambrosia. Your cake and icing. Your chutney and naan. Your Dornish wine and saltfish. I really shouldn’t blog while I’m hungry, should I?

  1. DeadLights magazine. This is a new market. They have hatched a nonpaying weekly short fiction market, called “Shotgun Horror Clips,” as well as a paying short-story one for the DL magazine. Citing influences from King and Straub to Barker, Jackson, et al, they clawed their way high up my horror-writing market list. The specifics about submitting paying short fiction, flash, art, and CNF for the magazine can be found here. For the Shotgun Horror Clips, check this link.
  2. More horror: Pseudopod, dubbed “the sound of horror,” is seeking your first-form, A-level, Big League, Premier League speculative fiction in the weird, gory, dark, violent, thrilling/unsettling vein. Got a time-traveling Jack the Ripper? Oh, wait. That’s been done already. But give them your absolute best, with emphasis on the dark and macabre (less comedy, more tragedy), and see if you can hit the really high notes with this HWA and soon-to-be SFWA approved market (professional rates, mind you!). Before you do submit, do get a really good feel for what they like. One of the writers I enjoy and follow, fictionist Aeryn Rudel, recently had a piece called “Night Games” converted to audio and featured on Pseudopod here. Think vampires and the desolation of the pitcher’s mound in baseball and you might harness a scintilla of this story.
  3. Interesting things:
  • Eavesdrop on F/SF writer Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn series et al) as he instructs on topics ranging from the business of writing to plotting to world-building and more. It’s as if you’re taking a master class but you can be introverted at the same time!
  • #HoldontotheLight: Did you know that 100+ authors of SF/F are blogging about mental illness and wellness this month? The matters touched on range from PTSD to anxiety to suicide. I can attest that these issues surface time and again in the science fiction and fantasy communities. If you’d like to join the movement, as a reader, commenter, contributor, or otherwise, one fitting place to start is writer Gail Z. Martin’s link round-up.
  • You might not know it, but there’s a campaign to create an exhibit and anthology of women’s science fiction writing, with confirmed participants as illustrious as Jane Yolen, N.K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, and a bevy of others thus far. As I write this, the “Catalysts, Explorers & Secret Keepers: Women of SF” project is raising funds and in the process of kicking off a call for submissions by or featuring strong female protagonists, including those from the stellar authors mentioned above. Now here’s a campaign to fund, if ever there was one!

It is time, or far past it, for me to close this post. *If you’d like to plug your own latest publication in the comments, please feel free.* Just don’t try to sell Russian watches, Cialis, or other male enhancement paraphernalia there.

See you in the funny papers . . .

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For those times when you want to look like Freddie Mercury with a sore shoulder. Maybe it’s under pressure?

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Remember these console record-players? You never know what you’ll find at Goodwill.

 

Three Ways I Owe Stephen King My Life—and My Sanity

The King is NOT dead. In fact it is his birthday today (21st September). He’s 69 years old. No joke (crude or otherwise).

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The (night)Stand. Dead center, wedged between anger and the unseen (Anne Carson poetry): King’s On Writing, sans dust jacket.

I’m not talking about Elvis, but the master fiction-writer Stephen King. Otherwise known as He of the eternal bestsellers list. Or maybe Scary Writer Guy.

If Mr. King hasn’t been on “The Simpsons” yet, please, somebody call Matt Groening. A scenario involving Itchy and Scratchy interviewing him, and perhaps literally being slaughtered by his words.

As for me . . . If given a few minutes with Mr. King, although there is much I would like to ask (including about language choices!), I should perhaps first offer him my hearty thanks.

In thinking about King the icon on his birthday, I am drawn to how many ways I owe someone I’ve never met, and am never likely to, my gratitude. Here are just a few. A tiny token. A kind of not-yet reliquary object; the moving finger, mid-writ. A curled, disintegrating pink sheet of paper, my treasure.

Three Ways I owe Stephen King . . .

1. It’s not about me. It’s about the bottle (if not the battle). Sometime last year, I read King’s (perhaps, although I hope not) conclusive novel in the saga of Dan(ny) “Doc” Torrance, Doctor Sleep. It makes so much more sense now. I can finally write it, nonfictionally, too: I am the child of an alcoholic. Curiously, it feels good to be truthful.

2. Have you read On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft? Really, there are too many gems in this short, leanly titled book to carry away in armfuls. To write, you have to read. Dogged persistence is key. Hammer at the words until you’ve fashioned something new—accessing a big, green god of ecstasy perhaps. You will survive; he (and his brother) did, after all. (Including the farting babysitter.) This book has saved me missteps I did not even realize were steps.

3. The pink sheet of paper, you ask? Circa, oh, 1989. Rest assured, it’s in storage. Not lost. Never lost. Dragged to a bingo game for the umpteen and first time as a child, I had two choices to make, both appealing: read or write. Thanks to reading King (and not always understanding what was beyond my range to understand), I nevertheless started turning to writing. On pink bingo programs or any scrap I could find. And, lo and behold, I became better at it (at least marginally, no pun intended) the more I did it. It propelled me in ways that being a sort of invisible raggedy-child of a dysfunctional family did not. Death and suicide, I saw through the veil of prose, were a termination. Not a clean and strings-free release. I, too, persisted.

So, world, you have Stephen King to thank (or stone) for my finding my way to the present me.

Unbraiding the strands of self from the writer is difficult to impossible at this point. At least, in that, I am thinking King and I are on common ground.

Long live Stephen King, my writing hero!

 

Good times, bad times

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May the sun be ever setting on your troubles! (Photo with filter applied)

First and foremost, it has been a rough couple weeks for one of the kids (and thus, my whole family), such that I’m thankful and glad it’s almost at a close (we hope). So, I haven’t had the time to read blogs and comment–at least not to the degree that I’d like. That should change as the days go on.

To balance out a tiny bit of the terrible, I’ve had a double-dip of the literary toe into pleasant waters. In short, I’ve had two microfiction pieces published. One is “old,” having been published in October 2015, and I just found out about it. I owe my belated thanks and gratitude to The Drabble for publishing “A Lotta Guts.” If you’re not familiar with this term or concept, basically most definitions say that a drabble is a short literary story, or microfiction piece, of exactly 100 words, not including the title. So, it’s exceedingly succinct. Somehow, I was able to craft and send a brief darling forth into the world (you can, too), and they published it. If you’re interested in the connection between American actor Ernest Borgnine and infectious disease, you shouldn’t miss this speculative fiction story. While you’re there, do be sure to partake of other “shortness[es] of breadth,” which is The Drabble’s motto.

That was the older “new news.” Now, the new news is that I just had a 50-word story, called “Love Offerings,” published on 50-Word Stories on February 22, 2016; they list me as Leigh Smith there. They publish two “bite-sized” stories daily, so your palate is always satisfied. And, if you enjoy my story or all or some of them, please give them a thumb’s-up (there’s a “like” at the bottom of each day’s stories). I feel very honored to have been included on this forum–and with another L-named person (this one was a Lee) on the same date. A big barbaric yawp-y shout-out to 50-Word Stories and its editor, Tim Sevenhuysen. Unless otherwise noted, they read submissions between the 1st and 15th of every month, and publish what they like on their Web site, with you retaining the rights. Give it a go if you like writing the short stuff.

So, a short(ish) post befits a couple of my recent short publications. This will be a Monday Markets stand-in for the time being, until I’m off and running again with blogging. Have a creative week, everyone!

 

 

 

Rise of the Monday Markets: Where to Submit Your Writing

Papa writing

Papa advises: Just go write!

Because I really enjoy connecting people with information, which perhaps stems from my background in journalism, I have long been wanting to continue or resurrect market listings. These listings have appeared from time to time on the blog: (as) Monday Markets and Submission Sundays, if I recall correctly.

I read multiple magazines, newsletters, blogs, and university Web sites, as well as subscribe to Duotrope for $5 basic membership a month, to receive and cull these markets for your use. If you have enjoyed or benefited in any way from these posts, please consider following me here, on Facebook, and/or Twitter. [Oh, and I’d love to hear of your writing or art-related successes in literature!]

I hope you will enjoy today’s eclectic collection. #amwriting

  • January 15: Bring out your dead! World Weaver Press is seeking tales of the uncanny, under 10,000 words. They may be reprints or new stories. Payment: $10 + paperback copy of the anthology. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but you may only send one story per anthology. #specfic #supernatural #fiction
  • January 15: If you’re a runner who writes or a writer who runs, you’re set for this theme. Tree-Lion Press awaits your speculative fiction inspired by long-distance running, 500 to 10,000 words. N.B.: “We tend toward (soft) Science Fiction and Fantasy,” but well-written horror without gore and meeting the other guidelines is okay. Follow their guidelines exactly! This is for the “Keeping Pace with Eternity” anthology. #running
  • January 20 (absolute latest): Put on your honorary fedora and chart your most winding adventures for benefit of Popshot magazine, a UK publication. Poems on adventure are accepted (up to 25 lines). Short fiction addressing the theme must be 2,500 words or fewer. You may obtain a copy for £6 plus postage or a yearly subscription starting at only £10. #fiction #poetry
  • February 1: Has Nature ever been your tutor? If you can craft a creative nonfiction story about your education at the pedestal of the wild, using “research and reportage . . . at least to some degree,” then you might like to consider Creative Nonfiction magazine’s themed call/contest “Learning from Nature.” Submit online ($3/story) or by regular mail. #essays #writingcontest
  • February 19: Use words wisely! Daisy-chain your best 91 bons mots into a memoir and win a free class with Gotham Writers. #memoir
  • October 1 to May 1: It’s not an easy road, considering a (short)list of publishees in the last 3 years—Joyce Carol Oates, Albert Goldbarth, “Charles” Simić, Alice Hoffman, and Anis Shivani—but should you decide to take the road-to-publication not taken, you might like to consider the literary magazine Boulevard. Published by St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri (USA), Boulevard seeks your fiction, poetry, and essays through May 1, 2016. No e-mail submissions are accepted; however, you can submit online via Submittable ($3 fee) and via regular mail (no fee, but mailing cost). Familiarize yourself with the magazine by buying a copy or subscription (or perusing it at your local library). They do post a few excerpts, such as this stunning Billy Collins (poetry) gem from Spring 2015 (at the bottom of the page): “Poem to the First Generation of People to Exist After the Death of the English Language.”

Good luck, and keep writing, reading, and learning!

 

Day 6 of Thrilling Fiction: The Mutant in Microfiction

DragonEye Supermoon

Once upon a time one cloudy night . . .

Day 6 (Oct. 24 for me, though strangely not according to WordPress) has dawned and almost passed by. Here’s to crepuscular creative writing!

I had the good luck to rescue a huge turtle from the middle of the road today (safely, yay for us both!), as well as accomplish some Samhain shopping with ninja kid #1.

If only I could have invited those of you who enjoy breakfast for dinner to our dinner of homemade banana pancakes, crescent rolls stuffed with either spinach, cheese, tomato, and pepperoni or some variation on that theme, and pomegranate arils. Too bad the bread’s hidey-hole didn’t fool ninja #2 into eating his vegetables.

As to writing, I knew I wanted to do a story featuring neither the “real world” nor science fiction, but rather either something inanimate or something Other, probably in the “monster” realm. So, here you have it: very short and not so creepy today. Oh well. This microfiction story was based on a prompt I did a year or two ago, I think with me needing to use the words flammable, heroic, and caring.

Enjoy the respite from a longer story!

Her Mutant Mate

Caring. Heroic. The words circled three times and flopped down in Zia’s mind.

It was nothing of the sort. Instinctual, yes. Stoic, probably. Possibly even as cold as she imagined the moon’s surface to be.

Nevertheless, it was just what she did. Her chosen lot, for her love and her light: Nils.

He whimpered from his wheelchair. The slobber slid down the stubble-bordered crevices around his mouth, and she moved to blot them, knowing he’d probably twist his neck away—and yet, never be able to articulate exactly why.

She noticed that he wasn’t nearly as alert today. Each day leached more energy from him while also lashing her closer to his side.

Life is both flammable and fickle, she thought as she stroked him to sleep.

Especially when you’re mated—and as good as married—to an aging werewolf.

####THE END####

Day 5 of Thrilling Fiction: Of Dystopian Futures and Missing Pieces

Greetings, fellow Fridaylings! On my part, another week survived (I think), although I did have a fascinating chat-visit from a couple ladies with the Jehovah’s Witnesses this week. They were polite, but I didn’t realize that “the kingdom” was that nigh. Yeesh; I better start writing that book as I’ll be getting burned off the face of the Earth here shortly.

Anyway, to get on task, these five days have been like clearing a 50-inch hurdle for a 65-inch woman with the raw vertical jumping ability of, say, a Spanish slug. I am in utter awe and stupefaction how some bloggers are so prolific. For instance, poet Bob Okaji, with his 30/30 Project (from August) to benefit poetry publisher Tupelo Press (here). Then again, I follow several of you big-time bloggers who could nearly put Scheherazade to shame with your dedication.

In any case, back at the Frightful Fiction Ranch, today’s sacrificial offering: it’s a bit longish (sorry, I did, er, chop it down some, but it could use more now that I re-re-re-read it). Comments, critiques, patronage, Indulgences, loving hates, helloes, hems, haws, hollers, and haw-haws always taken into consideration. 🙂


Disarmed and Dangerously Perturbed

GENRE(S): Futuristic science fiction/dystopian, cli-fi

What can I say in my defense? I’m wired for sloppy, stupid humor. In fact, my therapist and I can’t help but giggle about my propensity toward the scatological—as in, “I should do this” and “I never should have done that.” Pretty soon, and I’m shoulding all over the place.

Anyway, there was this one extraordinary day at work. It started off a good day. I am a worker drone at . . . well, let’s just say an extraordinarily wealthy global prosthetics factory on the coast of Atlanta. We’ve been in the Fortune 50,000 ten months’ running. We’d just received a rush order from Guinea-Bissau for 22,500 specialized hybrid noses to assist with breathing in a drastically changed climate.

Prosthetic foot, circa 2015

Even here in the ‘dark ages’ of 2015, prosthetics are ultra-realistic and, to be serious, they provide a good service to human beings who need them. Wow, the detail by this company!

Now, before you picture lathes and fine-grit sandpaper and rabbets’ edges humping one another on work benches, I should explain. For the most part it was take your one productivity tablet in the morning, set the program running, and call me in the mid-afternoon. Sometimes I could even sneak off to the break room with the VR glove if I thought the bot was patrolling a different section of the building. Her routines were semi-predictable that way. You only had to have hands and arms—fingers especially if you boiled it right down to it—and a little training—to sustain in this line of work.

So, there I was. I swirled my index finger in the correct ZX pattern to unlock the tablet. The proprietary software, Hands-On, which I (and probably others) nicknamed Hans, kicked in, greeting me with an affected accent of some kind, “Hell-o, Mai-ster Bhandgaresheek,” bonking only on the Mister part. It didn’t give two damns whether I identified as a male or not. That is to say, its workforce diversity protocols were dusty. At best.

I began my day running a program to assist in nose-making. For all the silliness you could make of my profession, it was secure: there was no shortage of work, especially for countries affected by what the old-timers had called climate change or those afflicted with the persistent twin gonorrheas of war and hatred.

Mijj was looking over my shoulder a lot, which was to be expected. I was teaching her how to use the software so she could become a limb designer sometime in the next decade or two. Then I could retire at 92 like everybody else in the global economy. Yet I’d put enough away . . . hell, maybe even at 84 or so I could tell this place to sod off.

Continue reading