Tag Archives | Fiction

Thoughts of a Homeless Man

Homeless Veteran on the streets of Boston, MA

Homeless Veteran on the streets of Boston, MA

A fictional reflection on the realities of homelessness.

Meng-hu writes at hermit’s thatch:

Fictional, but based on an actual conversation, with the interlocutor here speaking.

I’ve been homeless for ten years. I made some mistakes and I paid for them, but I lost all my friends, and my family refused to ever see me again. Jobs are scarce; I have no skills of value to anyone. But like Siddhartha in the Hesse novel, I can think, I can wait, I can fast. Many days I go hungry. But I have infinite patience. And I can think, but usually think myself into a self-righteous and ethical stalemate.

I decided to give up trying to make it, you know, to give up trying to be a square peg — or is it round? It was just too hard: trying to pay rent or a mortgage, trying to pay insurance and debts, trying to guess what pleases people.

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What’s a Vampire, Really?

BookOne_doorVampires. I know, I know–I always seem to be talking about them here. Not the sparkly ones, not the infamous Count, not the myriad of angst-ridden near-vamps in recent science-fiction and paranormal TV. No, I’m fascinated by the vampires of history.

In a previous post here, I wrote about the vampire graves discovered in Český Krumlov (and dated to 1732). The “vampire debate” of the 1730s concerned an epidemic of this “vampirism,” borrowing from science and from folklore. For instance, according to some of the stories, vampire men would come back not only to attack the living, but to woo them. Ok, probably it doesn’t count as wooing, but a case documented around the same time claims that a woman’s deceased husband returned to impregnate her. Sound crazy? It did to the scientific community, who sent in physicians to try and sort it all out. The woman’s case was dismissed as a diseased imagination–but that doesn’t mean they weren’t taking vampires seriously.… Read the rest

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The Next Burgeoning Literary Trend: Dinosaur Erotica

dinosaur eroticaYes, this is real and apparently quite popular. A sub-genre of the fast-growing “monster erotica” book realm, softcore dinosaur porn is epitomized by authors Alara Branwen and Christie Sims, who claim to earn six figures churning out e-books for their obsessed fans. Jezebel offers a taste:

Azog stood, clad only in damp buckskins, waiting for the beast to slash at her torso until she lay helpless and bleeding on the damp cave floor. Instead, it reached out with a classed hand to snatch at her damp animal hide as it clung to one shoulder. Azog felt the kiss of sharp claws against her skin as the hide slid from her shoulder and exposed on naked, heaving breast.

A reptilian tongue, stiff and hot, dashed out to lick at the tender, naked flesh so suddenly exposed. Azog gasped at the touch, then gradually relaxed as her body warmed to the intoxicating sensation of the beast’s flesh against her own.

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Alan Moore and Psychogeography

Picture: Karen Karnak (CC)

Picture: Karen Karnak (CC)

Alan Moore interviews are always worth reading. Here he discusses psychogeography as it applies to various of his works.

via Reasons I Do Not Dance:

What exactly, in your not unlimited understanding, is Psychogeography?

In its simplest form I understand psychogeography to be a straightforward acknowledgement that we, as human beings, embed aspects of our psyche…memories, associations, myth and folklore…in the landscape that surrounds us. On a deeper level, given that we do not have direct awareness of an objective reality but, rather, only have awareness of our own perceptions, it would seem to me that psychogeography is possibly the only kind of geography that we can actually inhabit.

What books and writers ignited your interest in psychogeography?

The author that first introduced me to the subject was the person I regard as being its contemporary master, namely Iain Sinclair, with his early work Lud Heat.

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The Cold War as Seen Through the Eyes of Dogs: ‘Belka, Why Don’t You Bark?’

For the first time in English, from celebrated post-modern author Hideo Furukawa, comes Belka, Why Don't You Bark?, an epic of magical realism as seen through the eyes of several military dogs: In 1943, Japanese troops retreat from the Aleutian island of Kiska, leaving 4 military dogs behind. One dies, and the others are taken under the protection of U.S. troops. Meanwhile in the USSR, a KGB military dog handler kidnaps the daughter of a Japanese yakuza. Named after the Russian astronaut dog Strelka, the girl develops a psychic connection with canines... The thought provoking adventure continues, following the dogs and their descendants through the Korean conflict, the Space Race, and the collapse of Communism. Click here for an excerpt of Belka Why Don't You Bark?
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The Day of the Drones

Picture: US Air Force (PD)

For those who may be interested, here’s a  short story I wrote about drones kicking ass in the future.  Enjoy!

Tolerance has never brought civil war, intolerance has covered the earth with carnage.
-Voltaire

We have guided missiles and misguided men.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Day of the Drones

Monday, August  10th, 2020

The father and son sat in the air-conditioned car during heavy morning traffic outside of downtown San Diego.  Through the smog the silver skyscrapers of that sweltering city could be seen snaring and pulsating in the haze.  Swelling the freeway were thousands of cars that crept along like termites in the heat of a vast mirage.  The hot sun rose high above the Cuyamaca mountain range as hoards of vehicles inched along the fuming, concrete inferno.  The searing traffic was unbearable.

“Jesus Christ,” the father sighed, “we’re stuck in a parking lot.”

From the back seat his son let out a moan of frustration, having expected that they would have reached their destination by now.  “How much farther?” his son asked.… Read the rest

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Occult Inspirations

Bulwer Lytton

Trust Mark Frauenfelder of BoingBoing to persuade erudite author Joscelyn Godwin to choose his favorite novels inspired by the occult. Here Godwin and writing partner Guido Mina di Sospiro pick five in addition to their own The Forbidden Book:

Zanoni, by Bulwer Lytton, is the premier occult novel of the nineteenth century. Lytton was a novelist and playwright, a dandy, a politician, and eventually a Baron. He is supposed to have been initiated into a German Rosicrucian order, and to have been in the Orphic Circle, a London group that used child clairvoyants. Dickens and Disraeli were his friends, but they didn’t follow his arcane interests. For instance, they weren’t with him when French occult author and ceremonial magus Eliphas Levi, in Lytton’s presence, evoked the spirit of the Greek Neopythagorean philosopher Apollonius of Tyana on a London rooftop. Zanoni is a description of initiations by one who has evidently passed through them.

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Fictional Characters Influence Real Life Decisions

AtlasShruggedHave you ever had the experience of stepping away from a novel and finding yourself thinking a little bit like the main character would? I’ve often described the feeling as being a little “book-drunk”, but I usually only experience it with really great novels. It seems to be worse when I read all or most of a book in one session.

According to a story over at GalleyCat, scientists have completed a study that verifies that this experience is a common one, and that the actions of fictional characters can actually influence the decisions we make – whether we consciously realize it or not. They call the phenomena “experience-taking”, and it’s very real.

Researchers exposed students to stories about students voting told in third-person and first-person tense, both written to encourage voting, and followed up later to see which group had the highest number of students who went to the poll.… Read the rest

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The Politics of Steampunk

Steampunk Mask

Photo: Jim (CC)

I thought it would be interesting to continue the discussion from my previous post on “Steampunk and Anarchism” (found here). This next article by Magpie Killjoy explores the intersection of radical politics and steampunk fiction and aesthetic Via TOR.com:

I first consciously got into steampunk back in 2004. It was the perfect aesthetic lens for my interests: history, mad science, genre fiction, the underclasses, and radical politics. It was steampunk, really, that helped me realize how awesome it is to be classy yet poor, that we can celebrate individual and communal ingenuity without babbling on about how great this or that nation or empire might be.

Now, seven years later, I’m constantly amazed by how many people, including some of the most die-hard steampunk adherents, seem to believe that steampunk has nothing to offer but designer clothes. There are people (a minority, I would argue, just a loud one) who act like steampunk is simply a brassy veneer with which to coat the mainstream.

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