Chuck Wendig laid out a new flash fiction challenge yesterday.

I took it on, and here is the result:

*****

My hands held the rich, dark, loam; the soil that was my salvation, providing sustenance after the reckoning. Here in my far North mountain home, I forged a new life, away from the chaos and violence; with like-minded people, I started anew. Bright flashes over the horizon, like the sun at daybreak, foretold a new darkening; the ash fell like snow, choking the sky and all beneath.

*****

 

I finally finished Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War. It had been sitting on my nightstand for several months, waiting patiently while I got around to breaking the spine. I wasn’t disappointed.

The Forever War is a classic in every sense, and I feel like someone who who showed up for the Sci-Fi lover’s test and realized that not only didn’t I study, but I wasn’t wearing any clothes. Not sure why it took me so long to actually hear about this book’s awesomeness, much less buy it.

But I did. And I am very happy for doing so. This is only the second Haldeman book I have read (the other being The Accidental Time Machine), but I know I am destined to have many more of his on my shelf before long.

In other news, I took a loop around Barnes and Noble the other day — killing some time before heading to the theater to watch Rise of the Planet of the Apes — and picked up Alistair Reynolds’ On The Steel Breeze and the Graphic Novel (Part One) of Larry Niven’s Ringworld. I’m particularly excited about this latest incarnation of Ringworld.  Very cool stuff.

No, I have not posted recently. But here I am, so put on your helmets and brace for impact.

I just finished reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s Fifty Degrees Below, and I have t tell you, I didn’t think it was that good.  And I love KSR — he is one of my favorite modern Sci-Fi authors.  This novel is all over the place — and not in the place of what really happens when abrupt climate change actually happens, which is the more compelling story to me.  It goes from some pale-lifestyle riff, to “black” surveillance (that is never really clarified), to some ongoing mumbo jumbo about Tibet and the real killer is the ongoing story line about a child whose parents are politically connected and he being a potential heir to the Dalai Lama; then there is the periodic snark about Republican political denial of climate change. Ugh.  I read to get away from that kind of shit. Did I mention the frisbee golf and homeless people? Okay, I read it, not pleased with it the way I have been with literally everything else KSR has written, but there it is. Let’s move on, Shall we?

Today is July 4th. Happy Birthday America!

I have done zero writing in quite a while. I really need to get back on the donkey — the writing one that continues to kick me in the gut — and shit out some syllables.  To quote Travis Bickle, “I have a lot of crazy (story) ideas in my head.”  I need to get them out there somehow.

Until I do, Au Revoir.

 

 

 

Wow. I have not posted much. The excuses are numerous, the intent is minimal, the outcomes debatable.  

So I’m off to Germany today.  I’m very happy about that, a quick break in one of my favorite places.  It’s for work, but perhaps I can jot a few lines; maybe take up the latest Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge. We shall see.

It’s summertime. And that’s the best time to be in Germany.

Where, pray tell, did January and February go? Seems like life is flashing before my eyes — or is manifesting itself as a dim, blurry, memory. Nevertheless.

I am off to Morocco on business for the week. I have my Kindle loaded with good books, including my latest read “The Hydrogen Sonata” by Iain Banks.  As usual, it is quite good – so far.

I may attempt a response to the latest Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge: Random Song Challenge. Whereby the author takes a random song title and writes a story with the song as the title.  Easy enough. As long as the random song title isn’t something like Funk #49.  Actually, a story called Funk #49 could be pretty interesting.  Whatever. We’ll see if I can generate some creativity tonight on the flight from Washington to Paris.

This is my contribution to Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction challenge, where each week another 200 words is added to the story.  The first 400 words have been written by others, the last 200 are my contribution to the story. Dave Kearney wrote the opening 200 or so words, and Rebecca B. did the second tranche.

First 200+

The lecture theatre door slammed shut with a bang so loud half the room jumped in their seat. Alice descended the stairs, not oblivious to the 200 pairs of indignant eyes boring through her, and took the only available seat at the front of the class. Professor Gordon Kane stood at the lectern and looked over the top his glasses at her. “Welcome Miss Turner, what a remarkable entrance. I was just about to introduce my colleague to your classmates, may I continue?” Alice’s face burned so hard she thought her hair might catch fire. Kane gestured toward a tall man wearing a green turtleneck and a tweed jacket with leather patches at the elbows. “I expect that many of you will recognise our guest,” he said. She recognised him immediately, in fact he was the very reason she was late for class. “His book, Changing Minds, has spent the last six months perched at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list, his television show of the same name has surprised  and delighted audiences around the world and we are very fortunate to have him here today. It is therefore, my very great privilege to introduce, Dr Lucas Spencer.” The room erupted into deafening applause. Dr Spencer moved to the lectern and held up his right hand. “Thank you Gordon, thank you everyone” he said. “I’d like to ask for five volunteers.”

***** The Next 200 *****

Hands of eager participants shot up all over the room. Dr. Spencer’s scrutinizing eyes grazed over them. He took his time carefully selecting those he brought up onto stage. When he reached time for the fifth volunteer his eyes found Alice. She had slouched into a seat in the back row of the room. He stared at her despite her unraised hand. “Ms. Parker?” His voice boomed. “Shit.” Alice muttered under her breath. A girl in the row in front of her snorted and turned to eye her. “Ms. Parker, join us on stage. I see your willingness to volunteer is a bit lacking.” The room turned almost as one to stare at her. She couldn’t show weakness and try to leave. She knew that everyone thought he was going to save the world. Refusal would net her pariah status on campus for the rest of her tenure. She hid her reluctance as she made the excruciatingly long walk to the stage. He greeted her at the stairs with a knowing look. “Thought you could hide from me, did you lovely?” he whispered. “I think you may regret toying with me Lucas,” she replied under her breath. “We’ll see.” His eyes lit up and he turned to face his audience. “Now, who wants to see the next level of human evolution?”

+++++ My 200 +++++

The volunteers had assembled in line on stage. Spencer pulled a small, black box about the size of a pack of cigarettes from his coat pocket. He walked to student at the far left of the line. “Put your right index finger into the box. You might feel a tingle, but otherwise the experience will be painless.” Doing as he was told, Roger Crabtree inserted his finger into a hole in the end of the box. Spencer did the same with each student in turn. Alice, standing stiffly at the end of the line, stared hard into Spencer’s eyes as she slid her finger into the box. “Well, this is somewhat irregular, but I suppose it can do no harm” she said, as he pulled the box away and walked briskly to a table set at the center of the stage. Students in the crowd murmured to each other as Dr. Spencer attached the black box to a laptop computer and typed furiously at the keyboard. “Just a few minutes, and then we will see what we will see,” he said, and gave his chin a rub. The black box began to glow, becoming incandescent. “There we are. Let’s begin.”

I always fall into the same trap. Just as my stack of books-to-be-read starts to get smaller, i take a lap around amazon.com or stop by Barnes and Noble — with obvious results.

And you might be wondering where I’ve been. All over, really. No excuses for having abandoned this blog for 3 1/2 months. Seems like it is always something. And now we’re almost halfway through NaNoWriMo and I have nothing to show for it. That being said, I haven’t put any effort into it either.

So I’m reading Iain Banks’ Consider Phlebas, and finished his Matter not long ago. I’m a third of the way through Peter F. Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn Trilogy and have 2/3’s of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Three Californias Trilogy to go. I have Hugh Howey’s Wool (I read the first installment a while ago, but picked up the new paperback that has the whole story) and Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War in the queue.

I also have Chuck Wendig’s Under the Empyrean Sky on my Kindle although that was a bit of a an impulse buy — not really into YA per se, but I’ll give it a shot. His Blackbirds was pretty readable but certainly not of the literary quality of Banks, Robinson or Haldeman.

So there it is. What I’m reading. I am still writing — sort of — but I don’t seem to have the energy to generate the words right now. I need to keep pushing on.