Archive for Uncategorized
Kay Kenyon’s latest work, published by Pyr, is a sci-fantasy quartet beginning with Bright of the Sky, a story that introduced readers to the Entire, a tunnel universe next door. Publishers Weekly listed this novel among the top 150 books of 2007. The series has twice been shortlisted for the American Library Association Reading List awards. The final volume, Prince of Storms will appear in January 2010. Her work has been nominated for major awards in the field and translated into French, Russian, Spanish, Czech and audio versions. Recent short stories appeared in Fast Forward 2 and The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume Two. She lives in eastern Washington state with her husband. She is the chair of a writing conference, Write on the River, and is currently working on a fantasy novel. All of her work has happy endings, except for those with characters who, alas, must die.
Kay Kenyon’s fantastic Castoff World chronicles the life of Child, a young girl whose entire existence has been spent on a garbage island adrift in the ocean. Her only companionship is a sickly grandfather and something she calls Nora — a Nanobotic Oceanic Refuse Accumulator that has continued its mission of collecting pollutants from the water, breaking them down, and transforming them into “good stuff.”
Likewise the events of the touching Castoff World by Kay Kenyon are restricted to a tiny stage — a makeshift Pacific raft — that nonetheless serves as an effective microcosm of broader ecological concerns.
Kay Kenyon’s wonderful story Castoff World of a young girl’s life aboard a floating reclamation centre;
Castoff World by Kay Kenyon has an amazing dreamlike feel to it. It’s about a girl, her Grappa (older grandfather figure) and a boat called Nora drifting on the ocean. It’s about truth and having to fend for yourself. It’s a bit Big Blue in its feel and the ending made me well up and sigh that Child will now no longer be alone. Beautiful.
The last story I want to mention is Kay Kenyon’s Castoff World. The story is about Child and her Grappa floating around on a barge originally intended to clean up the Ocean of pollutants like plastics. The barge has long since lost contact with the people who designed and ran it and it is now floating freely on a dangerous ocean, collecting ever more rubbish. We see the story from Child’s perspective. It’s a very touching story, I particularly liked the subtle presence of artificial intelligence. Beautifully written. This one is probably my favourite in the entire collection.
A story about the “friendship” between the orphan Child and Nora, a “Nanobotic Oceanic Refuse Accumulator” aka “an ocean garbage eating artificial island” which is Child’s only known home. While a bit too short, this story hearkens back to the traditional lost in the world adventure and it’s wonderful.
An interactive Google Map of story locations from the SHINE anthology:
I have seen @outshine on the edge of dawn, balancing dreams on the end of thorns…
Monday July 6:
[Quote for the Monday] “I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.”
[Source] Charlotte Brontë / English novelist (1816 – 1855) / from The Life of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell.
Tuesday July 7:
Cranked amps, bluesy rock, soaring solos, quiet-loud-quiet; pure summertime grunge pop, like the nineties never ended. Kick back, play loud.
Wednesday July 8:
So brave, so nervous. Both of them. Hand in hand, no gloves and no special suits. An unlocked hatch, a step outside. Truth: Earth survided.
[Bio] Jacques Barcia is a weird fiction writer from Brazil who’s waiting for the climate to change back to normal. www.verbeat.org/blogs/pwt.
Thursday July 9:
Good vs. Evil? Meh. If the Chosen One doesn’t get you with his magic wand, will Bumblebore you to death? Wil Hermione develop chlamydia?
[#Spitballs] Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince / Directed by David Yates / http://is.gd/1sGmU .
Friday July 10:
[Quote for the Friday] “Never trust the artist. Trust the tale. The proper function of a critic is to save the tale from the artist who created it.”
[Source] D. H. Lawrence (1885 – 1930) / British writer / Studies in Classic American Literature.
Saturday July 11:
They called Bill crazy for downloading his consciousness into a video game, but he wanted to spend more time with his kids.
[Bio] If you can catch Matthew Sanborn Smith early enough in the day, he smells rather nice.http://is.gd/ov1z .
Sunday July 12:
A wonderfully retro effort reflecting 30s-50s Sunday newspaper comics, with the first chapters of fifteen features presented tabloid-sized.
[#ShineComics] WEDNESDAY COMICS #1 [of 12] by diverse hands; DC Comics, 2009, $3.99.
Engulfed in super fiction fields, @outshine helps the false pictures dissolve:
Monday May 4:
[Quote for the Monday] Lying is the beginning of fiction.”
[Source] Jamaica Kincaid (1949 – ) / Antiguan-born U.S. novelist, short-story writer, and journalist / The New York Times.
[Ed] Submission stats, week 18: 36 subs, 27 by men, 9 by women, 3 acceptances. Re-opening Monday July 6.
Tuesday May 5:
A canonical album from the noise-rock duo who’ve practically dissolved the idea of ‘canon’; stimulating, but not for the unadventurous.
Wednesday May 6:
Lament of the Amoeboid Eremite: Quivering prophase
–Such lust cleaves our devotion!–
My mitotic sin.
[Bio] Nancy Chenier switches continents at random. In Japan now, but more permanence can be found at http://is.gd/jhTp .
Thursday May 7:
An origin story, done in two minutes in a previous film, is stretched into 107 minutes of dull with dialog like “Nobody kills you but me.”
[#Spitballs] Wolverine / Directed by Gavin Hood / http://is.gd/bMQl .
Friday May 8:
[Quote for the Friday] “A pun is a pistol let off at the ear; not a feather to tickle the intellect.”
[Source] Charles Lamb (1775 – 1834) / British essayist / Last Essays of Elia, “Popular Fallacies”.
Saturday May 9:
“You’re good as new,” Dr. said,
“I installed a new emotion processor
so you won’t have to worry about another
murderous psycho snap.”
[Bio] Andrew Hilbert lives and works in Orange County, CA. He regularly contributes to newversenews.com .
Sunday May 10:
Mankind’s future rests with its villainy; rebirth and renewal are shrouded in comic & tragic darkness, Brechtian lyricism and an odd end.
[#ShineComics] THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: CENTURY: 1910 by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill; Top Shelf/Knockabout, 2009, $7.99.
Under Twitteresque skies, @outshine unfolds before your eyes:
Monday April 20:
[Quote for the Monday] “Remember that to change your mind and follow him who sets you right is to be none the less free than you were before.”
[Source] Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180) / Roman emperor and philosopher / Meditations.
[Ed] Submission stats, week 16: 16 subs, 9 by men, 7 by women, 3 acceptances. Again short on humourous pieces.
[Ed] Next week’s your last chance to get a piece in: I’ll be closing @outshine to submissions in May & June, as the Shine anthology beckons.
Tuesday April 21:
Goth and Euro-pop-metal merge and reign on the Italian band’s fifth; a bit overpolished, perhaps, but catchier than a chrome beartrap.
Wednesday April 22:
A pastel blue bloom, close enough to cup in my hands. The quiet white petals I remember; vivid leaves. Home is near; as are you, at last.
[Bio] Stephanie Campisi is a writer of the weird and wonderful. Find her at www.stephaniecampisi.com.
Thursday April 23:
DIY FX and a too-pat ending, but still an effective near-future riff on Mexican cyber-illegals from a director who’s going to be a big deal.
[#Spitballs] Sleep Dealer / Directed by Alex Rivera / http://www.sleepdealer.com/landing.htm. .
Friday April 24:
[Quote for the Friday] “Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short.”
[Source] Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862) / U.S. writer / Letter to Harrison Blake.
Saturday April 25:
One night at the nude colony,
the moon rose celestially.
With no clothes to stifle
I transformed in a trifle
To eat snacks, packaging-free.
[Bio] Writer-mommy-doctor who loves artists & underdogs: melissayuaninnes.net .
[Ed] and only now I find out that Melissa’s piece was planned for April 18, and Paula’s (pub’d on April 18) for today: my apologies to both.
Sunday April 26:
An official look at a key part of the series background, interesting but confusing; too much compression and bad art are strikes against it.
[#ShineComics] BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: THE FINAL FIVE #1 by Kevin Fahey & David Reed (script), Nigel Raynor (art); Dynamite, 2009, $3.99.
OK: so this is a particular art form from one country (Japan), and not about the whole of literature & SF in Japan (although I do hope to get a piece about that in the future).
Madeline Ashby was so good as to send me this. Enjoy!
“The World is Made of Love and Peace”: Optimism in SF Anime.
Anime (アニメ, or Japanese animation) has been unkindly described in a variety of ways, many of which will sound familiar to readers and viewers of science fiction accustomed to the pejoratives hurled at their genre of choice: childish, violent, disgusting, derivative, nationalist, misogynist. “Optimistic” isn’t the first word that leaps to mind when one considers the greats of the medium: Akira and Ghost in the Shell have been critically acclaimed for undermining the metanarratives surrounding the body, the nation, reality, and gender, but it’s difficult to argue for hope in a story featuring total body disintegration as a method of escaping governmental observation and control. However, there are other greats neglected by both critics of anime and consumers of traditional science fiction. This post hopes to introduce you to some of them.
To understand optimism in science fiction anime (and, I might argue, to understand Japanese science fiction in general), one must accept the ambiguity inherent in Japanese depictions of advanced technology. This ambiguity stems from two sources: the loss of the natural world in the face of modernization after the Meiji Restoration (a significant loss in a country where priests and priestesses still guard ancient trees), and the catastrophic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the atom bomb. Of all the countries that produce post-apocalyptic science fiction, Japan is one of the few that has endured a real apocalypse. It should therefore come as no surprise that Japan’s science fiction is more optimistic than most, but also more realistic about the sacrifices necessary for survival and success. They’ve been there. They know.
This might be why, although Japan built Heinlein’s “powered suit” into the giant mecha or mobile suit we all know and love, most of the best mecha titles feature anti-heroes who wish desperately that they could put the armour down, or that the armour were no longer necessary. From the Jungian analysis that is Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) to the alien/human love triangle of Macross Plus (1994) to the bishounen angst-fest of the latter Gundam (1979-present) series, proper stewardship of the giant mecha means having a conscience that shrinks from violence, but also the internal determination to carry it out in order to protect others. The pilots who feel differently, who rejoice solely in battle and find their life’s meaning in chaos and destruction, are frequently depicted as deeply broken people who cannot survive in a peaceful world because they have no bonds or ties keeping them attached to the world of humanity.
This theme of human connection plays itself out in a number of anime titles. It’s a staple among multiple genres, but significant examples abound in SF. The afore-mentioned Evangelion suggests that our affection, however grudging, for our fellow humans may be all that keeps our reality from collapsing. And in Voices of a Distant Star (2002), teen romance survives the vagaries of relativistic time dilation, and the strength of the lovers’ connection gives them the will to continue meeting their civic and military obligations despite living in light years apart. Similarly, the characters in The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004) know that saving the world will mean wiping out their memories of one another, but trust in their ability to re-connect — and in Japan’s ability to re-unite itself as a nation. This theme of youthful hope for the possibility of enduring love and friendship repeats in The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), in which time travel is a metaphor for adolescence, and growing up means learning that time can’t be stopped and deeds can’t be done over.
Adolescence is the time when most of us begin engaging in self-definition, frequently through relationships (or conflicts) with the Other. SF anime is replete with stories about this phenomenon. Consider Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Miyazaki Hayao’s 1984 story of Nausicaä, a young pilot and amateur biologist seeking to learn the secret to reviving the “Sea of Corruption,” a toxic wasteland inhabited by the Ohmu, a prehistoric race of sentient insects. Despite their ugliness and their predilection for violence, Nausicaä takes the side of the Ohmu when a group of humans steal a larval Ohmu in an attempt to divert the wrathful, rampaging herd toward their enemies.
Miyazaki does not have a monopoly on stories about flight or strong young women, however. A similar story plays out in Eureka 7 (2006). The series starts out in a very traditional way (a young boy named Renton who dreams of piloting a giant mech gets the opportunity to do so, and in the process falls in love with an otherworldly girl), but manages to undermine many of anime’s longest-held tropes while still utilizing and exploring them. Renton may have skill with the mech, but he still gets air-sick in the cockpit and occasionally flees his responsibilities when things get too difficult. Eureka may be a beautiful hybrid of humans and the sentient Scub Coral, but the story continually emphasizes her Other-ness through grotesque metamorphoses and repeated (and quite painful) misunderstandings of human motivation. As bildungsromans go, this one has a slow start but comes to a satisfying conclusion because everyone grows up and learns more about their world — including the grown-ups. Plus, the writers make reference to everything from the Beastie Boys to Greg Egan.
Overwhelmingly, anime creates an optimistic sentiment not by depicting a utopian future, but by locating the reason for hope in humanity’s ability to make the right decision — to sacrifice, to embrace, to re-build. In the face of apocalyptic destruction, impossible odds, and a long record of mistakes and misdeeds, the heroes (and anti-heroes) of anime maintain a stalwart faith in heir fellow men and women. Case in point, the source of this post’s title, Vash the Stampede, star of Trigun (1998). Like Eureka (whom he clearly inspired), Vash is a sentient-but-alien creature with the capacity to wreak terrible destruction on the humans of his planet. His Plant DNA lets him live far longer than most humans, and he can regenerate from mortal wounds (though he often chooses not to, perhaps in order to maintain empathy for the short-lived people he’s sworn to protect). Despite having every reason to hate humans (they killed his sister and most of his species), and despite living as a fugitive thanks to the massive bounty on his head, Vash stays positive, goofs off, and does his best to help the downtrodden. A crack shot, he refuses to kill even when massively outgunned.
Optimism in sf anime might best be summed up by this moment from Trigun: Vash, unarmed against cannon-wielding post-human thugs, pauses and smiles. Taunted by his enemy about the lives he must have destroyed to survive so long, he reaches for the last weapon in his arsenal: a child’s toy gun. He covers the man in suction-cup darts, grins and says: “Can’t we just quit? After all, the world is made of LOVE AND PEACE! LOVE AND PEACE! LOVE AND PEACE!”
His enemy falls, literally bowled over by the audacity, the sheer madness, the undefeated spirit, of the man before him. He’s stupid. He’s crazy. He’s dangerous.
But he wins. He always wins.
For more information on SF anime, I suggest Mechademia, the journal of anime and manga, as well as the November 2002 issue of Science Fiction Studies, which focused on Japanese SF, and Fullmetal Apache: Transactions Between Cyberpunk Japan and Avant-Pop America.
Madeline Ashby is a graduate student, otaku, teacher, and immigrant. She has lived on the outskirts of Los Angeles, Seattle, and Toronto, where she is now a member of the Cecil Street Irregulars and a contributor to both Frames Per Second Magazine and WorldChanging Canada. She speaks a smattering of Spanish, French, and Japanese. Her fiction has been published in Tesseracts and FLURB. Hopefully that list will lengthen as time passes.
Where @outshine tweets to the beat:
Monday February 23:
[Quote for the Monday] “Prosperity is only an instrument to be used, not a deity to be worshipped.”
[Source] Calvin Coolidge (1872 – 1933)/U.S. president/Speech, Boston, Massachusetts.
[Ed] Outshine slush stats: 40 subs in week 8; 19 by men, 21 by women. 3 acceptances. Thanks for sending me funny ones: keep them coming!
Tuesday February 24:
Stop the press – heavy metal songcraft found alive and well! No gimmicks, solid songs and meticulous detail; modern thrash done properly.
Wednesday February 25:
The sun went black about two years back and we all figured it was over. Then the babies started getting born with sunlight in their eyes.
[Bio] Filamena Young, writer, mother, not on fire. www.filamena.com.
Thursday February 26:
A doppleganger Mom I’d Love to Flee makes tweenager Dakota Fanning squeal for real in this creepy, almost-as-good-as-Lewis-Carroll tale.
[#Spitballs] Coraline/Directed by Henry Selick/ http://coraline.com/ .
Friday February 27:
[Quote for the Friday] “Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility.”
[Source] James Thurber (1894 – 1961)/U.S. writer, cartoonist, and humorist/The New York Post.
Saturday February 28:
I´ve got you under my skin, said the blues singer. And the nanochip that watched over her replied: here´s looking at you, kid.
[Bio] Fabio Fernandes is a writer, reviewer, and editor. Keeps the blog Post-Weird Thoughts (http://is.gd/ijfY). Just sold his first story.
Sunday March 1:
Event exhaustion on all sides? A Dark Reign keystone, this oversized issue is mostly dull Bendis-chatter interrupted by a boring battle.
[#ShineComics] NEW AVENGERS #50, by Brian Michael Bendis, Billy Tan and sundry artists. Marvel Comics 2009, $4.99.
See you later!
Thinking about the last ‘off-the-cuff’ remark in my previous ‘relevant SF’ post, I produced the seed of a story outline. Since I am too busy to write this myself, I thought I’d share it with everybody interested in SHINE, and hope that it may inspire you.
Disclaimer: please don’t take my ‘thinking-aloud’ musings as gospel, but rather as a jump-off point for your own inspiration. Feel free to use each and every idea and notion, or to cherry-pick from them, or twist them to your own advantage. Even better if you think: “I can do much better than that, and I’ll show you’: I’ll happily look forward to your stories in May and June.
So here goes: Read the rest of this entry »