FEAR OF THE FUTURE
Here is a short piece dedicated to the end of the world. A sister piece in the series that includes “How to Talk to Aliens about Death” and “How to Wave a Flag”.
FEAR OF THE FUTURE
Interviewer What exactly is your phobia, Carlton?
Carlton Well the medical name is futurophobia.
Interviewer And what does that mean exactly?
Carlton It means I’m afraid of the future.
Interviewer The future?
Interviewer How long have you had this phobia?
Carlton Since I was a child.
Interviewer And how did it start?
Carlton When I was five or six years old, I remember going to a friend’s house and I saw the future on the stairs. And the future was looking at me, well staring at me. I went to touch it, and it bit me. And since then I’ve always been afraid of the future.
Interviewer What happens if you see the future?
Carlton Well, I start to feel very nervous, my hearts beats quickly. And I have to go away very quickly from where the future is. For example, if I see the future in the street, I always cross to the other side.
Interviewer What do you do?
Carlton I’m a doctor
Interviewer Is your phobia a problem for you in your work?
Carlton Well, sometimes. On the rare occasion that I go to someone’s house on a housecall and they have a future, I have to ask the people to put it in another room. I can’t be in the same room as the future.
Interviewer Have you ever had any treatment for your phobia?
Carlton Yes, I’ve just started going to a therapist. I’ve had three sessions.
Interviewer How’s it going?
Carlton Well, now I can look at a photo of the future without feeling nervous or afraid. And I can touch a toy future. The next step will be to be in a room with the real future.
Interviewer Do you think you will ever lose your phobia of the futures?
Carlton I hope so. I’m optimistic. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be able to live in the future.
ANATOMY OF A FIRST SALE
In theory, my story was supposed to go live at NewMyths.com on the 1st of December. Well, today is Monday and hopefully itll be posted eventually. Until then, you might find this entertaining:
Almost two years ago now, I decided rather abruptly that I was going to write a science-fiction novel.
I was mainly inspired by my friend Juan, who had written one in a two or three month stretch of unemployment. Mine was going to be a post-“peak oil” thriller in which the most audacious “novum” was the idea that in the future, “football” (i.e. “soccer”) would be the most popular sport in the divided States of America.
I soon realized I’d bitten off more than I could chew, and decided I ought to try my hand with the short-story medium, you know, to sharpen my skills.
My first story idea was the fruit of a misread word on a computerscreen. My eyes saw the word “Jesuit” and interpreted it as “jetsuit”. The similarity between the two words struck me, and I started my first story with the image of a “Jesuit in a jetsuit”. I wrote a story the “logline” of which could be summarized as “witch hunt on a lunar colony”, and promptly sent a draft off to my friend Alex, who happened to be taking a course on science-fiction and fantasy at the university.
He never got around to reading it, thank goodness. It was nearly 28 pages long. Also, it sucked.
I noted in the e-mail to my friend that I was shooting for sort of a mix between Jorge Luis Borges and E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith. “Los teólogos” seen through the prism of Golden Age SF. An Inquisition led by Campbellian “competent men”. What I’d ended up with was “The Wicker Man IN SPACE”.
After many submissions and rejections, I actually got a rewrite request from one market. The editor suggested that the piece would perhaps be better if I excised the scene in which a farmhand had sex with a sheep.
I removed the scene and re-submitted, but alas, ‘twas not to be.
Finally, I sent the piece to Mr. Scott T. Barnes at NewMyths.com. He also requested a rewrite, saying that the ending was all wrong, the motivation for the main character’s action at the end was non-sensical. He suggested that I completely overhaul the second half of the story and send it back to him.
His observations were all spot on, so I obliged, and in short order, received an acceptance e-mail and a contract—my first (and only) sale. And so, dear friends, a sucky story became non-sucky (IMHO).
How to Wave a Flag
Inspired by this article:
I was watching the election results last night, thinking: I honestly cannot remember the last time I waved a flag. Maybe as a child on 4th of July, but I don’t reckon I reflected much on what it meant at the time. Hm, imagine that, waving a flag without reflecting much on its meaning.
It’s an action that seems perfectly alien to me. Wondering how it was done, I consulted the internet. Here is what I learned, in a series of easy steps.
Step One - Obtain a flag; any flag is perfectly acceptable. No one really cares about you and your goddamn stupid flag anyway.
Step Two - Hold the flag in your hand. If you are right-handed, hold it in your right hand. If you are a lefty, put the flag in your left hand. Also, don’t drop it, moron.
Step Three -
Step Four - If it is a heavy flag, be prepared for the weight to wear on your shoulder. You may need to shut off the small instinctive lizard-part of your brain, the part that feels pain, in addition to the rational thinking part of your brain (if you failed to switch the latter off in Step One).
Step Five - Swish your wrist from side to side and up and down.
Step Six - Watch your flag move gracefully in the sunlight.
Now YOU can wave YOUR favorite flag for your favorite country or organization!
- Be sure to wave your flag with lots of spirit! Anyone seen half-assing in their flag-waving will be subject to a fine, torture or excommunication.
- Make sure your flag isn’t too heavy, as waving it for long periods of time may strain your wrist. Some studies also show that repetitive flag-waving may kill brain cells.
- Try not to use a flag that is burnt or torn, and don’t burn or tear a flag, as you might get your ass kicked.
- Don’t wave a flag near someone that may become offended by it. That is just asking for it.
Ahead of the upcoming publication of a little science-fantasy story of mine, the nice folks at NewMyths.com have seen fit to publish my answers to the questionnaire which they sent me along with my contract. I suppose I was somewhat giddy at the time I responded, because I come off sounding like a bit of a dork. But whatever. If you’re curious, you can read it here:
“How to talk to aliens about death”
Inspired by an article in the Washington Post
(OK, perhaps ‘inspired’ isn’t exactly the word, for one reason or another…)
“How to talk to aliens about death” by nm whitley
Last week, all my alien overlord could talk about was the baby panda.
He was fascinated. He called up videos of the panda on the computer, and I dug out the worn old copy of their storybook about a baby panda.
Like the rest of us, my alien visitor couldn’t wait to get a look at the cub. It was I think a wholly new concept for him, actual live mammalian birth.
Then yesterday, I read in the news that the panda had died and I gasped aloud. My alien overlord asked me why and I instinctively lied.
I told him a mosquito bit me.
Lying about the harsher realities of life, and death, comes all too naturally to me. I guess I tend to have a romantic notion of what aliens imagine the human condition to be, and I just want to keep that big, shiny bubble intact.
Experts say this is an mistake. They say leaving aliens to explain life’s questions to themselves is the stuff nightmares are made of.
There are lots of good resources on the Web for explaining the human notion of ‘death’ to aliens, detailing how to use concrete language with our literal-minded visitors and how to incorporate the conversation into a larger discussion of belief and faith with them.
My advice? Trust your aliens.
Be open and honest. They’re a lot more psychologically resilient than you think. Death is a reality that is best addressed before tragedy occurs. The death of a baby panda, soul crushing as it may be, is an opportunity. The silver lining to a dark, ominous cloud.
Have you talked to your alien overlords about the dead panda?
Notes from SF 2012
Looking through my notebook I found this which I forgot I had written.
“On my first day in San Francisco,
- I had a rather tense exchange with the brakeman of a cable car.
- I went to a Chinatown pharmacy and bought some Breathe-Right strips from a girl whose nametag read ‘Ting Ting’
- I witnessed an argument between a musician and a magician near the pier.
- I had various unflattering photographs taken of me.
- I got sunburned on a cloudy day.
On my second day in San Francisco,
- I saw a man walking down the street wearing headphones and rapping to himself very loudly about ‘the Hyphy movement’ at 9 in the morning.
- I watched a girl scotch-tape ‘FREE PUSSY RIOT’ fliers to electric poles.
- I ate a veggie burrito while Camilo Sesto played on the jukebox.
- I purchased ‘compact discs’ encoded with recorded music.
- I totally destroyed (in the good sense of the word) ‘Differences’ by Ginuwine at the karaoke bar insides the Thai place where we had dinner.
- I drank an Irish car bomb.
On my third day in San Francisco,
- I drove to the beach.
- I went to the park.
- I crossed a bridge.”
I believe the word is “W00t!”
In my first publication here I mentioned something about smelling big news in the air. I’m happy to announce that I am not mistaken.
Today—one year, three months, six days and exactly 67 rejections after my first serious submission to a fiction market—I received my first acceptance email.
In what one hopes would be a first of many to come, it seems I have succeeded in placing a vaguely Golden Age-y Science Fantasy short story with a semi-pro website.
More details soon to come…
Young Nickels the Great’s ‘I Was Young’ release date pushed back again
Young Nickels the Great’s ‘I Was Young’ release date pushed back again
The release date of Young Nickels the Great’s ‘I Was Young’ has been pushed back again.
It was confirmed today that the release of the hotly-awaited ep has been delayed. According to MTV.com, the date had to be pushed back to allow for some last minute changes.
The predecessor to this album, ‘Travelin’ Music (Bustin’ Ya Ass Style)’ was released in 2008 and featured artists such as SisQo, Tha Great Gatsby and Alan Thicke. The additional artists on this new album have not yet been announced.