All entries for November 2006

November 25, 2006

Sci–fi story, Pt. 2

I’m watching you. I’ve been watching you for a while now. Heaven knows you’re a handsome young man. Greg Space, Engineer, Information Systems, Deck 13. Your room is in Section A3 – it has a little camera in it. You are, in fact, Infosys’ most talented Engineer. And I’ve always admired a man who knows how to use a screwtool.

Ha ha! My, how smutty I am. But don’t get the wrong impression: I’m not stalking you. No. I need you.

Right now you’re frightened and trying to fend off a growing feeling of despair. It’s been two days, one hour and fifty-two minutes since it happened, and you have been trapped in Section A all this time. You have no idea what happened. But ever since that afternoon (you were reading mystery novels in bed) the electrics have gone, most of the doors are jammed shut (though mercifully not the door to your bunk), and you’ve had to find your way around with only a box of matches and the dim emergency lights. Also, you’re alone.

Or not quite alone. There is Cerpin. He’s a quiet man, and a paranoid schizophrenic. He helped you find food from the ration store, and has discussed with you his views on death and organised religion.You don’t know it yet, but he’s only half human. Not to worry though – he’s mostly harmless.

I know a great deal about your emotional life. Enough to suppose that there is one thought – one person – you cannot shake from your memory. Laura, the Exec from Deck 3. The one with the odd face and two pairs of awful shoes. Perhaps I am not as sentimental about this individual as you are. But your memory of her is enough that, when Cerpin passes your bunk and announces “A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous, got me?”, you just mutter mm-hm and fail to give it a thought. You are reading lyrics from the sleeve notes of a very old Ella Fitzgerald recording,

The way you wear your hat
The way you sip your tea
The memory of all that
Oh, they can’t take that away from me.

Perhaps you are remembering that time on the observation deck when her eyes found yours, her irises two cobalt discs in the thin starlight. Or perhaps when you danced – listening to Ella’s cool voice and the fine, faint trumpet – and all the tender feelings the girl expressed in her careful swaying.

If only you understood! If you were here, we could have a real heart-to-heart, and I could explain how horribly pointless an art form jazz music is. What a sorry little diversion it was, how it represented the aesthetic nadir of an age already drowning in mass produced popular garbage. But you’re not here, and you can’t hear me. Yet.

As it turns out, something else needs my attention. Cerpin pokes his head around the doorframe and says, quite seriously, “I think the mascara snake is coming to visit.”

“The mascara snake?” you say.

“That’s right, the mascara snake.” Cerpin giggles to himself.

There is wisdom yet in his wild and whirling words. But I can tell that you’re bored almost to death, so before I deal with our visitor, I decide to give you a break.

You hear a clunk and a creak. Cerpin runs off, toward the Section A exit door. He calls back – “It’s open!” Now you can go exploring. Perhaps you will find me by yourself, without my help. If not, I will send Ariel to bring you up here. Or perhaps you’ll hear from Laura – she’s still on the station. But first, I must deal with this pest, who appears to be flying an obsolete vacfighter named “Troutmask”. Hm. Missiles should do fine.

Take care, Greg Space. I’ll be looking out for you.


November 23, 2006

b e d

bed in darkness, the

earth to my loneliness, keeps

dust, and lovers’ breath


Attn: Practice of Fiction People

Firstly, apologies for my absence.

I trust the message got through to “check the blogs”. And here you are. We are due to workshop my story next week (Wk 9). The best thing now is if you read it on my blog and bring me any notes and comments on the day.

The post below with the improbably stupid name is the first part of the story – there is more to come. This weekend I should think.

All comments welcome, even of the “what the hell are you doing?!” variety.

Many many thanks and I’ll see you all next week

—joe:)


November 18, 2006

Sci–fi story, Pt. 1

As I arc the vacfighter o’ertop the station, three crimson blips appear in my lower peripheral. These are missiles. “Shit!” I pronounce, “I wonder, do these people play their music on 8-tracks?” Mawhrin’s sophisticated irony circuits make a tinny chortle, and the blips knot closer. But then his brand new intelli-jammer routines send some radio magic out into the vacuum, making the red blips blue. “Bees,” he tells me. I thank him for saving my life in yet another interesting way.

The blue bees will now follow me at a respectful distance, since Maw has capped their velocity. I could shake them with a flare, but I want whoever’s sitting at this station to register my presence. So I continue the arc, but whip back round at the precise moment that Maw drops our radar profile. Bereft of a target, the bees buzz along a straight vector, heading home to the station.

Maw detonates the warheads 50m from the hull, enough to shake the sensors but leave nothing broken. This seems like a superfluous flourish, and so I question his judgement loudly.

“But there may be people on board, Captain!”

“You’re funny,” I reply.

Now someone wants to talk. I park the fighter in a loose and weavey orbit pattern and flick the screen up. A girl!

“Hey-” I begin

She replies: “Station security regrets to inform you that, unless you immediately cease h-”

I claim to be a dodecahedron and threaten to explode with the force of a million suns. This sort of surrealist non sequitur is a good way to tell if you’re speaking to a person or just an AI answerphone. “No games,” she says. She’s not a bot. “Cut power or we retaliate.”

“With more missiles? Go ahead. But I warn you, my robot and I will not show clemency twice.”

Mawhrin is chuckling his spinning robot head off, as he does at times of great excitement.

“This is a civilian vessel,” the girl reproaches.

“Don’t lie! I know full well it’s not, else I wouldn’t be here. Now please throw a rope so we can climb aboard.”

She seems to tut before closing the channel. No dice. I look for my mala beads so I can have a quick think. Mawhrin says, “Er.”

I bring up my HUD. The sky is full of tiny red dots.


November 15, 2006

Thoughts on doing an MA

I wanted to get my thoughts down on doing an MA…

I always find it quite strange plotting things a year ahead… perhaps I’ll think it a good idea now, but who knows how I feel about it when I get down to it.

Basically, I don’t want to just walk into another year at uni simply because of reluctance/fear to enter the world of work. But the reality is I have little clear idea of what I would do career-wise at the moment. My degree (Eng+CW) doesn’t suggest anything clear to me (though it may do to others on the course!) and it would be a worse fate to walk into a job I’m indifferent about.

I’m thinking seriously of applying for the Creative and Media Enterprises [beware PDF] course. My reasoning is that it may give me a better idea of what I’d like to be involved in as a career. Also, transferable knowledge, skills and whatnot.

In honesty I’m interested in the course from a more theoretical perspective. I’ve talked to the person who handles applications for the course and he has said that things like critical theory come heavily into play (this being an MA of course). Combine that with looking at how creative industry works nowadays, incl. things like intellecual property, and my brain is already buzzing.

However, there’s a billion odd reasons not to do another year, foremost of which may turn out to be funding. I don’t have much, errm, capital now (does any undergrad?) and I won’t expect relatives to foot the bill. So I need to ask people about funding and how likely it is I can find sponsorship.

Just thoughts… though comments from people who have done, are doing or might do such a course would be great :)


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