Archive for the ‘Sci-Fi/Fantasy’Category

Prophecy in Fantasy

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(LOL Carlton fortune teller)

You know what?  I like certain tropes in fantasy and sci-fi.  That means prophecy.  Someone posed the question about whether or not to include prophecy in fantasy writing, whether or not it’s cliche, or an overused trope. I say go for it.  Read some Nostradamus.

Arthurian legend has good prophetic material.

The best prophecies are the ones that aren’t 100% true/legit, whatever. It’s like the great Azor Ahai prophecy from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. You have the obvious choices and you have the not-so-obvious choices, and you have the whole notion that you can probably make the prophecy fit whomever because the clues aren’t always literal but metaphorical. Or are they?

It’s a great way to say, “Hey! Look at what I’m doing with my hand. Yeah! Shiny prophecy! Signs point HERE,” then the writer is using sleight of hand to sneak in the less obvious choice.

I think of Lady in the Water (sorry, I know a lot of people hate that movie, but I enjoyed it). You have someone that completely misinterprets the signs and almost fracks the whole thing up. Then, the real interpretation unfolds.

Lots you can do with it.

Here’s the thing. You wait around long enough and most prophecies would probably come to pass, right? Just look at Nostradamus. People are constantly trying to say, “YES, he predicted 9/11! Here is the proof! I’m interpreting it in X way and I’m right!”

And you have no idea if it’s right, but it sounds like it might be. And that’s magical and mystical. And ooooo, what if?

In another 20 years, we might have another “two steel birds falling from the sky on the Metropolis….” situation that will also fit.

Consider why a prophecy might be created. To bring hope in a time of turmoil and suffering? Religious reasons? (Control, hope, eternal salvation.)

Also consider self-fulfilling prophecies like Oedipus. Someone goes out of their way to avoid a prophecy and because they took those severe actions, they ended up bringing it about themselves.

I think they’re great in fantasy, especially when they:

1. Don’t come true exactly as you think they might.
2. Mean something completely different than what you imagine.
3. Come true but make things a lot worse (or trigger a nastiness).

You’re going to get the cliche eye-roll from a lot of people. Oh my GAWWWWD, PROPHECY!

Just like you get people saying, “OMG, MEDIEVAL FANTASY…………”

There are obviously markets for these things. Big, fat, glorious markets.

20

08 2013

Vampires Done Right

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Yes, vampires are “in” now, thanks to the series-that-shall-not-be-named.  Or maybe not.  Agents seem to be pretty anti-vampire when it comes to their submission wish lists.  I don’t know.  Trends are weird.  What I do know is that vampires have been cool for a long time and now they’re kind of weak.  I mean it’s not all epic-fail material, but pretty dang close.

As a child of the 80s, I consider the vampire quite a different animal in a sense.  None of this sparkling, tweeny pining BS, but tragedy and horror, films that made you question whether or not you’d actually go through with the whole thing if Mr. Vampire Hottie Pants showed up at your door and said, “Come on, baby!”

So, I give you my top five vampire films from my lifetime (40ish years).  In no particular order:

Near Dark

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Say wuuut?  Kathyrn Bigelow directed a vampire movie?  You bet your sweet bum she did.  Near Dark is one of the best vampire movies out there with a truly stellar cast: Lance Henricksen, Bill Paxton, Adrian Pasdar, Jenette Goldstein.  (Whoah, half the cast from Aliens?  Well, Bigelow was married to James Cameron who directed Aliens in 1986, then lo and behold, Near Dark comes out in 1987.  Why break up the dream team?)

What was so great about Near Dark was that the vampires weren’t all slick, Wall Street, Gucci-wearing studs, they looked like they walked out of a Hell’s Angels biker bar.  You could almost smell the stink and sweat on them and when they targeted you as a victim, there was no lusty exchanges where eyes met and someone licked their lips, pure, undiluted fear.  “This guy is going to tear my throat out.”

In a sense, this is vampire-meets-western.  You walk into the wrong bar and you’re dead.  Bill Paxton, “This is some pretty shit” kind of dead.

The Hunger

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Sensual, refined horror, but not in the eye-rolling, shiny kind of way.  I always loved Tony Scott’s The Hunger.  Beautifully filmed, superbly acted.  It’s a story based on Whitley Strieber’s novel of the same name.  (The same Whitley Strieber who wrote Communion and other alien abduction literature.)  The book is a fabulous read and quite different from the movie.  These vampires are genetic, born into their race.  When Miriam, a vampire born in Egyptian times, tries to create progeny, things go smoothly for a few hundred years before her “children” (and lovers) begin to decline rapidly.

David Bowie plays Miriam’s recent lover, David, and Susan Sarandon plays Sarah, a young physician who is studying age and immortality.  Sexy scenes, frightening revelations, another story that makes you ponder whether or not vampirism is truly worth it–given what happens to Miriam’s companions once they begin to diminish.

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In the 80’s this movie became so coveted in video rental stores that you had to slap down a $50 deposit just to rent it. People were stealing the movies.  It was also around this time that Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles were really picking up steam.

Interview with a Vampire

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The Hunger leads nicely into Interview with a Vampire.   Sure, the film had flaws (one of which was not Tom Cruise, imho.  I thought Cruise nailed the role of Lestat.)  But, again, this wasn’t the pretty little high school vampire who pranced around looking broody.  Living the life of a vampire was kind of shitty in Rice’s world.  The transformation was grueling, the fear of exposure and danger was omnipresent.

Vampires had their mystique, certainly, their lavish lifestyles, their clothing, their mannerisms, but there was also something quite grotesque about them as well.  The film does a great job of letting you see them in their fine clothes, but look close enough and you see the pale skin, the protruding veins, the preternatural form.

Kirsten Dunst made a wonderful Claudia–a character in the first book that I had a hard time with as a reader.  Something about her rubbed me the wrong way, but Dunst made me feel for her, sympathize for this wise woman trapped in a little girl’s body.  Mood, cinematography, music.  All came together nicely.

Salem’s Lot

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I had nightmares about this kid (at the window) for years after first seeing Salem’s Lot.  Stephen King takes on the nosferatu: more beast than beauty.  This is the monster in the closet.  Nothing romantic going on here.  Just death.  And blood.  And old cellars and musty smells.

Salem’s Lot utilizes the ghost story trope.  The creepy old house in a small town.  Things go bump in the night.  When we do finally see the big bad vampire, it’s scary, it’s exhilarating.

Side Note: Check out Silver Bullet as well, King’s take on the werewolf.  Gary Busey and Corey Haim!  You can’t get more 80’s than that.

Bram Stoker’s Dracula

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Rich and gothic, Coppola’s adaptation brings the source material to life in truly remarkable way.  Like Interview with a Vampire, this film has its flaws (cough: Keanu Reeves), but Oldman nails his role as Dracula–from the early scenes as Vlad the Impaler, to his powdery-pale, blood-licking Methuselan.

Ryder was hit or miss for me, but Sadie Frost’s portrayal of Lucy seemed to make up for it, as did Anthony Hopkins’ stint as Van Helsing.  This isn’t a story that makes you think, “Hmm, vampirism, sounds cool!”  You’re given the romanticized perspective in one hand and the foul horror in the other.

Honorable Mentions:

Let the Right One In: This almost made my top 5.  It probably should have.  Read the book.  Watch the film.

Fright Night: Great, fun, campy vampire story.

The Lost Boys: Funny and humorous, but vampires are still sinister in this flick.

Final Notes:

One has to wonder why we’ve turned vampires into fluffy, sparkling unicorns.  Perhaps society is becoming better equipped to embrace the Other when it’s dressed up like one of the guys from N’Synch.  What makes a great vampire story (and a great vampire character) is the pain and suffering that comes with it all.  HBO’s True Blood touches on this to some extent.  The Vampire Diaries as well.  But overall, vampires have lost their bite.

In epic fantasy, the “grimdark” pendulum seems to be pretty far into the dire, horrible, awful realm.  Nobody wins.  Nobody gets what they want.  Vampire literature?  Direct opposite.  It’s all too clean.  The above movies remind us that vampires are not, in fact, human, and that being one of the undead isn’t full of daisies and cotton candy and high school crushes.

It will be interesting to see if the pendulum swings back anytime soon.

 

04

07 2013

Phoenix Comic Con – 2013

(WARNING – PICTURE HEAVY!)

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At the end of May this year, I attended the Phoenix Comic Con.  The biggest draw for me?  The 20th Anniversary of Babylon 5.  In my humble writer’s opinion, this is one of the best science fiction stories (television, movies, books) of all time.  Sure, there are flaws, but overall?  Stunning series with characters both sly and Shakespearean.

I met some of the cast members and obtained a fair share of autographs.  (Click image below to see full-size version of the names I wrangled).

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All were friendly and warm.  A few were downright joyful, namely Claudia Christian and Peter Jurasik.  Claudia was the first autograph I received and she refused to charge me for it.  Most of these events require $20-$50 per autograph and while I get that this is the way that some actors make money at these conventions, smallfolk (and not-s0-rich-folk) like me, cannot always afford to dole out hundreds of dollars.

She was very mindful, very present, smiled and joked.  I purchased her book and read that on the plane back home.  Great, fun read.  This is a woman who has lived to the hilt and has experienced the good and bad that comes along with that.  I hope it’s really just the first stage of her career.  Her screenplay, “The White Buffalo,” sounds fascinating.  Hollywood needs to step up.

Peter Jurasik was a blast.  We probably spoke to him for a good 15 minutes (he and Stephen Furst).

Here is a pic taken of my husband (left), Stephen, Peter, and myself.

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I put it in black and white because the florescent lights inside the convention center were truly horrific.  My blonde hair looked canary yellow and Peter and Stephen looked like they were both wearing orange makeup (they weren’t, I assure you!).  Not pretty.

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Peter’s run as Ambassador Londo Mollari in the series is one of the greatest of sci-fi series performances.  What’s even more grand is that Jurasik seemed to embrace this role, had fun with it, and loved talking about it.  He even spoke to us in Londo’s dialect just for fun.  He also told us that it’s the fans who make this whole experience worthwhile.  He seemed so sincere and gracious.  He and Stephen both.

JMS was very attentive when I approached him.  He’s one of those writers that you look in the eye and see things working, see that sparkle.  Smart, clever, and a little mischevous.  That’s what I got from my meeting with B5’s creator.

Pat Tallman was a hoot.  Very sparkly and shiny.  Apparently, she also doesn’t age because she looked so healthy and vibrant.  Funny.  Liked to joke around a lot.

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We also talked to Jerry Doyle (Garibaldi in the series).  Very genial guy, very easy to talk to.  He made some great jokes about politics, talked about his radio show and such.

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Walter Koenig (Chekhov from Star Trek and Bester from B5) was soft-spoken and friendly.  Mira Furlan (Delenn, and Danielle Rousseau from LOST) was very kind.  She said that she is into science fiction now and was reading a lot of dystopian/apocalyptic works.  Here she’s telling my husband about why she likes science fiction so much.

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Again, had to gray-scale it because the lighting was awful!

Overall, a great convention.  I read somewhere that over 50,000 people attended. I think that’s a record-breaker for Phoenix.  Loved the city.  Loved the people and the celebs.

We chatted with Sam Witwer (Being Human, Clone Wars, Battlestar Galactica) and he was probably the most down-to-earth of all the celebs we met.  Smiled, had fun with his fans, talked to us for a while.

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In terms of dining, I highly recommend Barrio Cafe (as known from Dives, Drive-Ins and Diners on the Food Network).  I’ve never had better Mexican cuisine.

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Fantastic guacamole.

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Even more fantastic tequila bar. While I’m not a drinker, my husband is.  Everything from $5 a shot to $400.

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The outside had some breathtaking graffiti art as well.  You need to click the images below to see the larger versions. They’re stunning.

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Definitely heading back to Phoenix next year!

 

 

 

 

22

06 2013

Writers of the Future Press Release

Here’s the press release (finalists) for the Writers of the Future.  Quarter 2 (volume 30).

http://www.prweb.com/releases/LRonHubbard/Writersofthefuture/prweb10859885.htm

Congrats to all of the other finalists!  Good luck to all.  May the literary gods smile upon you.  I kind of picture that looking like this:

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Yes, I have a cat thing.

21

06 2013

Go Go Good Team!

I AM THE GOOD TEAM!

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Or am I?

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Great news!  I can finally share it.  I am a finalist in the Writers of the Future contest for Quarter 2 (volume 30).  That means top 8 out of thousands of entries.  They will choose the winner (and 2nd/3rd place) in three weeks.

Now, I went into this thinking, “Someone cool might read my work,” and as a geek genre writer, that (in and of itself) is better than waking up on Christmas morning with a hot pink Huffy bicycle under the tree.  The one with glitter-streamers and a mini license place that read “Hot Stuff.”

Don’t razz me.  This was the 70’s.

Naturally, when I received a call from Joni at Writers of the Future, I thought, “Oh (bleep) there’s something wrong with my story.  It got lost.  They forgot to have the judges read it.  A band of raccoons hopped-up on bath salts stormed WOTF headquarters and tore up the servers, then they went house-to-house looking for judges, destroying all evidence of my story. Epic FAIL!”

But then, she gave me the news.  I felt my heart grow three sizes, then it started beating really loud and my hands shook and I lost my breath and then, and then, and then . . . .

Breeeeatheeee . . . 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . .

Ellipses abuse!

Who knows if I’ll make the top three, but it’s exciting to know I have chance.

Funny how these things come when you need them the most.  I was just sitting down the other day to write a scene that is kicking my ass and I thought, “Self, this sucks.  Writing is hard.  How do I spell T-H-E?  What is the capital of Missouri?  Why am I watching Dance Moms?”

Hard stuff.

Now?  I feel like what I’ve been doing for the last few years just might be worth something.

Anyway, I’m here in the moment.  Will update when I get it.  Until then, this is me:

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21

06 2013

Franken-Eye & Entertainment Babble

I have a new eye.  Okay, new lens IN the eye.  I have early onset of cataracts from a medication I’ve been taking since I was in my early twenties. Nice, eh?  Clear up your lungs, but how about some cataracts with those cortisteroids?   What’s amazingly cool is how my vision has changed now.  Below is a fairly accurate image of the change.

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In one eye, things are blue and sharp and awesome.  In the other, it looks like it did in Fort Collins during the High Park fire.  Another three weeks and I’ll be rockin’ the vivid colors in both fronts.

I haven’t done much writing lately because of the eyes and because I’m getting one of my Ph.D. application packets completed.  Writing samples, letters of recommendation, ordering transcripts.  On top of that, I have to finish a grant for the Literacy Center and finish some observational coding for the game.  My break is pretty much over.  Oh well.

In Television News . . .

The 3rd to the last Fringe episode airs tonight.  Looking forward to it but sad as well.  What in the heck are the Bishops going to do?  There’s a reset coming and because this is Fringe, they won’t shy away from it.  How will the show end?

Arrow is getting incredibly good.  It needs to come back from hiatus.  NOW.  Wonderful writing.  You can feel this show is going somewhere.  They’re planting seeds all over.

American Horror Story. WTF, I love you?  Jessica Lange is so full of winning!

Downton Abbey, hmmm.  Not sure what to think.  Seems to have lost its magic.  Why the heck does Mary come across as some kind of crazy gold-digger?  They also need to get Mr. Bates out of jail.  He’s boring in Jail.  He needs to be in the house where he can put the snotty servants in their place.

In Movie News . . .

This is 40 was hilarious.

Need to see Django.

Need to see Zero Dark Thirty.  I’ve been a huge Katherine Bigelow fan since Near Dark. Yes, once upon a time Vampires were Vampires.  I smell a vampire post coming on, one dedicated to the vampires of literary and movie past that don’t suck.

 

11

01 2013

John Sheridan as the Archetypal Hero

I wanted to title this post, “The Crap We Write in Undergrad,” but I thought that was a bit harsh.  True, but harsh.  I created this epic research paper (thing) on John Sheridan from Babylon 5 and how he fits into the monomyth, Jung’s archetypal journey, and the alchemical process as heroic archetype.  It would make a badass graduate-level thesis.  But, because I was a worthless peon with no idea how to write such a research paper, I just started throwing ideas on the page, telling the story that I thought was uber-important.  I turned it in, smiling, to my teacher who probably hated my guts forever after having to read the whole thing.

Here’s the deal, it wasn’t that bad.  It was unorganized and in no real MLA or APA format.  Someday, I’d like to brush it off and turn it into something beautiful, but until now, it is my suckfest attempt at monomything across the universe with ole Starkiller.

A PDF of the terrible paper is HERE if you really want to see it.  There are pictures!

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Where am I going with this?  Well, I have a few things to say:

1. Don’t throw anything out. Ever.  Ever ever ever.  Even if it sucks more than anything has ever sucked in the history of suckiness.  You might use it someday.  I could take this crap-paper and turn it into something.  Not now.  I’m enjoying my winter break too much, but someday.

2. The seeds of your creative awesomeness may produce stinkweed, but, when you do a quick search to see what else is out there, you come up with awesome stuff.  For example, this guy’s article that makes yours look like something  Chaka from Land of the Lost horked up on some cave wall in France.

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My goal now is to find more awesome article’s like Iaccino’s that look at the monomyth played out in popular culture.  Reading for tonight?

  • The Monomyth in James Cameron’s The Terminator: Sarah as Monomyth Heroine by Donald Palumbo
  • The Antichrist as Anti-Monomyth: The Omen Films as Social Critique by Neil Gerlach

 

Will take suggestions if you’ve read anything particularly awesome lately.

 

 

03

01 2013

All Work and No Play….

God, I’ve been a bad blogger, but, this also means that I have been quite the prolific writer over the last few months.  Not just crap, but some decent stuff.  I’m on another draft with a new beginning (changed the first 1/3 of the book).

The characters are better.  The story is better.  Last time the writing group saw it, they said, “This is it.  This is THE book.”  Good news.  What also rocks is that the changes I have made will send some exciting ripples into the sequels (and stories beyond all set in the world of Feyn).

I’m nearly finished with my M.Ed. in adult education and am considering applying to a Ph.D. program for next year.  I have funding that is good through 2015 and that can carry over into my Ph.D. program, provided I’m accepted.  It will mean a lot more work, less time to write, but where there is a will . . .


. . . there is a creepy baby picture.

In health news, I had sinus surgery.  Recovery was hardcore with lots of percocet.  I also developed early onset of cataracts and will be having lens transplants soon.  It means two things (in order of importance):

  1. I will get to wear a cool eye patch.
  2. I might not need glasses anymore.

 

As far as Television goes . . .

  • The Walking Dead rocks this season.
  • Once Upon a Time still sucks and I still watch it, thus I suck.  (Fallacy!)
  • The Winchester boys always satisfy on Supernatural.
  • Being Human season 2 was not as bad as the internet led me to believe.
  • Homeland is awesome, and creepy, and scary and uncomfortable.
  • Fringe was my great find last year.  I am officially a Fringe-o-phile.  Last season is on air now.  (Sniff)
  • Arrow is pretty damn cool.
  • Person of Interest is good.
  • Game of Thrones!!111!!!

 

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Movies . . .

  • Loved the Hobbit.  Interesting additions.  Cannot wait to see Smaug next year.
  • Looper was badass.
  • Spiderman reboot was actually good.  Really good.  I liked it better than the Raimi versions.
  • The Avengers.  Yes.  Just yes.

 

I have this new blog/website.  I’m struggling to figure out the theme.  It’s donking up my media when I try to add pictures (see baby up top) to my blog posts.  This forces me to whip out the html which is not okay.

Writing group tomorrow.  I gave them 3 chapters. Two of them have sex scenes.  I think I’m just a big, dirty, rotten perv.

 

 

27

12 2012

Live Forever!

When you are young, you dream big.  There is a memory I have.  I was seven or eight and I was spending the night at my cousin’s house.  She and her two sisters showed me this game where they would walk around the edge of their waterbed and try not to fall into the middle (hot lava or shark-infested waters).  As we maneuvered the wooden frame, pocked with scratches and crayola, I said, “I’m going to be an author.”  I don’t know what prompted me to say that, but I did.  “I’m going to write books.”

My cousins, being the stalwart dreamers they were (and still are), said, “That sounds pretty good.  Okay.”

As you grow, people begin to shine a bright, ugly light on your dreams.  Namely adults.  They pat your head and say, “Hey, that’s cute that you want to be an author, but let’s think about doing something else.  How about becoming a secretary?  Boy, you sure can type fast!”

Ray Bradbury was one of the only adults that told me it was okay to dream big.  I never met the man or talked to him personally.  Right now, I wish I had been brave enough to write him a fan letter, but the window for that opportunity has closed now.   He spoke to me through his writing.  He was my very first muse.

The first story I read of Bradbury’s was “The Dwarf.”  I found an old, ratty copy of The October Country in a pile of my parents’ old books.  “The Dwarf” was about a little person who worked in a carnival.  After he finished the long day, he would go into the house of mirrors and find the one mirror that made him look tall and thin, or, in his eyes, normal.  As many stories like this go, someone found out about his mirror and chose to play a cruel prank.  That story broke my heart and delighted me all the same.

The Illustrated Man came next, followed by R is for Rocket, and S is for Space. I consumed Bradbury at an alarming rate.  His stories took me to the edge of my imagination, whether it was a married couple hiding in the recesses of our past, a lone astronaut jettisoned from his craft, hurling towards Earth’s atmosphere, or a little girl on Venus who talked endlessly about the sunshine, only to be locked away when it finally appeared.

When I first read The Veldt, I felt that spark return.  Me.  An author.  Yes, this is what I want to do.  Bradbury spoke to me through that text and I’ll never forget what he (and Mr. Electrico) told me: “Live forever!”  He found the dreamer in me, gave her a cup of espresso, and put her to work.  As for The Veldt, the passage that grabbed on to the front of my shirt and gave me a sound shaking is here:

And here were the lions now, fifteen feet away, so real, so feverishly and startlingly real that you could feel the prickling fur on your hand, and your mouth was stuffed with the dusty upholstery smell  of  their  heated pelts, and  the  yellow of them was in your eyes like the yellow of an exquisite French tapestry, the yellows of  lions and  summer grass, and the sound  of  the matted lion lungs  exhaling on  the silent noontide,  and the smell of meat from the panting, dripping mouths.

Lions.  They’ve always been a part of my life in some way or another, mostly in my dreams, though I do know a queen of a lion-tribe who has given me her undivided support and loyalty.

When someone dies, we’re told to let that physical part of them go.  What are left are all the memories, “as fragile, as wondrous, as vulnerable, as lovely as life itself.”  Bradbury showed me the railyards, boxcars, the smell of coal and fire from his youth, things that others found ugly.  He taught me how to remember the smell of fresh-cut alfalfa on my grandfather’s farm, the light warbling of the ditch near that old apple tree, where I found shade on many summer afternoons.  He reminded me of apricot trees that I used to climb, using pieces of rainbow colored rope to drape in its branches, hoping the birds would mistake them for snakes and leave the fruit alone.  He reminded me of swing sets that took my feet into the pink-and-purple dusky-hued skies, and of wildfire lining the sides the mountains, creating a row of orange “V”s along the dark, rainy northern sky.

Today, I’m reminded.  Live Forever.  To me this means writing.  This means putting pen to page, or fingers to keyboard.  Above all else it means remembering who I am and that it’s time to make some more memories.

Archived from: 6/6/2012

26

12 2012

Sci-Fi Poetry Kudos

My pal, Greg Leunig published his first sci-fi poem, Love in the Quantum Era, on Strange Horizons.

Kudos to him!  Sci-Fi Poetry, eh?  I was a bit turned off by the concept until I read his poem.  Nicely done!  We fought the good fight in undergrad, my friend.  Now, we are writing genre.

Winning!

Archived from: 2/3/2012

26

12 2012