October 15, 2019

IDEAS ON TUESDAYS 418


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc.) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

H Trope: apocalyptic diary/journal/log
Andrianampoinimerinatompokoindrindra Zehrezgi – who preferred to go by Andri Zee – tried to keep his last meal down as the boat rocked beneath his feet.

“Isn’t this exhilarating?” exclaimed Shamma Maslah.

“When do you think the hurricane is going to stop?” he asked.

Shamma burst out laughing. “There’s no hurricane! In fact this is the calmest day I’ve seen since we were out here.” She glanced at him and went to the railing and said, “If you don’t like the ocean, why’d you come out here?”

“This site is within the waters of my country.”

She made a face, saying, “I didn’t know you had a country. Not how you talk about it anyway.”

“Madagascar is my homeland!” She grunted and leaned over the rail, looking deeply into the water. “Watch out!” he cried, stepping forward, arm outstretched.

She looked at him and laughed, “What? It scares you when I lean out this far?” she said, leaning back over the railing. Suddenly the water below her grew dark and began to bubble, gently at first, then wildly. Water geysered into the air. She screamed and staggered backward, into Andri Zee’s arms and they watched in horror as...

A fluorescent orange conning tower surged out of the water, sluicing aside until the hatch on top opened up and a young lady waved at them.

Shamma shouted, “Laura! What’s going on?”

“You won’t believe what we discovered! Not only is Mauritia a sunken island – there was some sort of sealed chamber there!”

“What?” Andri exclaimed. Majoring in archaeology, THIS is what he’d come for! “Where is it?”

“They had to send down the big sub and they’re bringing up the entire chamber right now.”

Shamma looked at Andri then Liz, bobbing in the conning tower of the sub and shouted, “The time is all wrong! Mauritia sank when the dinosaurs died. There shouldn’t be anything there.”

Liz shrugged, “I don’t know about when it sank or what should and shouldn’t be there, but there’s something big and it looks like it was sealed. See you in a bit!”

*
They rendezvoused at the small sub dock. The massive winch from the ship platform had lifted a barnacled encrusted, roughly cubic case into the air and was swinging it over the helipad, where it lowered the box down.

The metal groaned as the cables above relaxed. Andri said, “It’s heavier than it looks.”

“Way heavier,” said Liz.

Shamma frowned. There was something about it. Something strange. Despite the noise around her, she could hear…not exactly hear…sense? Feel? She wasn’t sure. Something. The hot sun of the Indian Ocean beat down on the head of the crew. Men and women in trunks and halters scampered around the deck, disconnecting chains, cables, hosing down the object. SCUBA divers were lifting up from the waterline; heavy metal music abruptly blared from the deck speakers and the recovery work began in a part atmosphere.

Shamma found a spot, out of the way. Her work on the project was cataloging and identifying life forms; part of a survey team that had set out to begin to quantify the anecdotal evidence that the oceans were beginning to recover now that the world population had precipitously fallen during the H7N9 Pandemic of 2014-2016. With over two billion people dead, the Earth seemed empty now. It scared her sometimes. Abruptly, a  migraine assaulted her. It had been years since she had one.

That was when heard a voice, speaking in Olde English. She only caught the first few words, vaguely familiar, but somehow wrong as well, “In the beginning, I created this earth to inhabit heaven...” The migraine became blinding and with a squeak, she passed out.

Names: UAE, Somalian; Madagascar, Ethiopian; Hebrew (diminutive of “Elizabeth”)

October 13, 2019

POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAYS : Of NASA, Democrats, Republicans and the South Korean Space Sprint


NOT using the panel discussions of the most recent World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, CA in August 2018 (to which I be unable to go (until I retire from education)), I would jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide. But not today. This explanation is reserved for when I dash “off topic”, sometimes reviewing movies, sometimes reviewing books, and other times taking up the spirit of a blog an old friend of mine used to keep called THE RANTING ROOM…

After JFK sent the United States on a gentle landing (as opposed to a “collision”) course to the Moon, it seems that Democrats turned from the stars to focus on Earth…

Even today, budget battles in Congress have focused on moving into space or more closely monitoring Earth (for Climate Change and Near Earth Asteroids that might collide with the planet and change all life as we know it (see Mary Robinette Kowal’s novels THE CALCULATING STARS, THE FATED SKIES, to be followed by THE RELENTLESS MOON (2020), and the conclusion of the quartet with THE DERIVATIVE BASE in 2022.) The focus has been essentially along party lines, with Democrats seeking to strengthen the knowledge base of our own world, and Republicans eschewing Earth for our place in space.

Private industry is maniacally developing launch vehicles, with one currently making test trips up and down and which will very soon be added to Russian Soyuz capsule as the only vehicle able to carry Human crew and passengers; of course all of this is with a close eye on enlarging their cash cards. Other nations, once content to either ride in the wake of space giants Russia, the United States, and China; are now racing on ahead – with dozens of countries claiming a space program(seventy-two of them), but only fourteen of those with a serious launch capability.

Six have the capability of launching AND RECOVERING biological material; and finally only three have sent astronauts from their own space program into space – Russia (first, April 1961), the US (second, May 1961), and China (third, October 2003).

The International Space Station has been occupied without interruption since November 2, 2000 (currently, 18 years and 343 days) with a total number of visiting scientists of 236, coming from eighteen countries.

Humans have a presence in space – near space, anyway. We’ve landed on the Moon 21 times, starting in 1959 with the Soviet Luna 2 in 1959, to the most recent landing by China’s Chang’e 4 less than a year ago (at this writing; https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/interactive-map-shows-all-21-successful-moon-landings-180972687/). Spacecraft have landed on Mars eight times (all US ships) and Venus six times (all of them Soviet Union ships) and Magellan took extensive radar images that were processed into 3D images. Humans have also shot probes through the atmospheres of Venus (once). NASA/ESA and Italy had Cassini drop a probe into the atmosphere of Titan eventually crashing into its atmosphere while gathering data. The Galileo probe went to Jupiter.

 So – why am I here?

To say that I’m irritated that Democrats seem fixed on Trump’s idiot statements about AGW and insist on directing NASA to send up more satellites to take more pictures of Earth and add more data to something that while people DENY it, has a relatively high probability of being a real trend; those Democrats are totally ignoring the spin the current president has put on NASA’s return to the Moon and mounting a mission to Mars (mostly because it’s flashy and I think he wants to be mentioned in the same space-breath as JFK…)

Check the articles below if you think I’m being an idiot. They’re (mostly) non-partisan (the one partisan piece does the same thing current Democrats are doing: dancing around a revitalized humans-in-space program that Trump’s Tweets have re-initiated).

So, what’s this have to do with writing?

Americans are not only oblivious to but actively ignoring the efforts of the rest of the planet to get into space. In the upcoming issue of ANALOG Science Fiction and Fact, I have a short story, Kamsahamnida, America” in which South Koreans land a woman on the far side of the Moon using a bit of gravity modification technology.

The concept is NOT a mere SF idea however. During a month-long stay in RoK, I saw firsthand, the South Korean’s American-like obsession with space. From science museum images of Korean astronauts on the Moon and Mars, to the attitude of people regarding what Americans would consider “cramped living quarters” and the reverse paradigm of the US and its European roots that “wide-open-spaces” and single-family-homes is the only sure sign of success and the Korean paradigm that the poor have “houses” and the rich have apartments that OTHER people take care of so they can do IMPORTANT work. Also, the Korean space program, while it hasn’t landed a person anywhere yet, was independently developed in a way reminiscent of the American space program of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and started with sounding rockets and have gradually scaled up to full-sized rockets capable of launching satellites and (I’m sure) eventually crewed spacecraft…to the fact that in the center of the peninsula, you’ll find the National Fusion Research Institute…(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DA8GnrhTCY; http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/news/articleView.html?idxno=29116) South Koreans are actively experimenting with rockets, fusion power, and countless other technology applications of physics.

I believe that South Korea will not only one day stun the world by skipping over the “big” nations to make a conceptual advance that all of them expected to be the sole province of Western White Big Country Big Budget Science…That’s what I explore in the story in the November/December ANALOG.

I think they’re poised at the edge of a leap into space; and , “Kamsahamnida, America” is the first in a set of stories that will be set in the same universe. It’s also a universe that sees the achievement of a Korean dream: to reunite the peninsula.


October 8, 2019

IDEAS ON TUESDAYS 417

Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc.) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them. Regarding Fantasy, this insight was startling: “I see the fantasy genre as an ever-shifting metaphor for life in this world, an innocuous medium that allows the author to examine difficult, even controversial, subjects with impunity. Honor, religion, politics, nobility, integrity, greed—we’ve an endless list of ideals to be dissected and explored. And maybe learned from.” – Melissa McPhail.

F Trope: divination (especially water (how Stephen King got his start)

While not “current”, it’s interesting to note that horror writer, Stephen King became a writer because of water dowsing (also called, “divination”): “explains his childhood fixation with the imagery of terror and horror, making an interesting comparison of his uncle successfully dowsing for water using the bough of an apple branch with the sudden realization of what he wanted to do for a living. While browsing through an attic with his elder brother, King uncovered a paperback version of the H.P. Lovecraft collection The Lurker in the Shadows, which had belonged to his long-since-departed father. The cover art—an illustration of a monster hiding within the recesses of a hell-like cavern beneath a tombstone—was, he writes, the moment in his life which ‘that interior dowsing rod responded to.’”


Sui Fun Fong Eu and her boyfriend Chang-Lin Chiao are New York natives, two generations separated from their Chinese heritage – neither one speaks Chinese, likes Chinese food or has any desire to be anything except another invisible New York, high school seniors. They aren’t brilliant, both have older brothers and sisters who are lawyers, doctors, physicists and a pro-basketball player; so no one expects anything for either of them.

Both of them plan on “going to college”. Neither one knows what they want to major in except, “business”. They are comfortable with their lives and they are comfortable with their relationship – sexy, but not crazy (a pregnancy outside of marriage would STILL be a “bad” thing for them).  They are simply, COMFORTABLE and happy to be that way.

That is, until they’re walking through Central Park one afternoon and see someone with a white stick – a slender single end splitting half-way up and the elderly man holding the two ends in his hands, intently studying the ground.

“What’s he doing?” Fong asked.

Chiao shrugged and went back to scarfing his McDonald’s fries. He finally glanced at the old guy and stopped walking, squinted and said, “I think he’s looking for water.”

“In Central Park?”

Chiao shrugged again. “None of my business. Just another crazy New Yorker.” He kept walking, but Fong stopped to stare. He reached out and tugged her sleeve. “Don’t do that. He might be a mugger.”

“I don’t think some old geezer can hurt me from, like, the middle of the park,” she said, laughing.

Suddenly the old man looked up. The dowsing rod plunged to the ground like he’d caught a hundred pound tuna. He shouted angrily then the ground fountained up into the air, throwing him back. Something large, dark and insubstantial – like oil smoke – spewed from the ground. A limb of the smoke speared the old man in the chest. He spasmed once, then lay still. The cloud slid across the grass and before it reached them; before they could move or even scream, Fong could see that the grass beneath it curled into brown deadness.

Chiao said, “I think we should get...”

The oily smoke...

Image: http://www.skyscrapernews.com/images/pics/6255CaernarfonCastle_pic1.jpg

October 6, 2019

Slice of PIE: Supplanting Erudition With Entertainment (I Started One Essay, Ended Up Doing Another)


NOT using the panel discussions of the most recent World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose, CA in August 2018 (to which I be unable to go (until I retire from education)), I would jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide. But not today. This explanation is reserved for when I dash “off topic”, sometimes reviewing movies, sometimes reviewing books, and other times taking up the spirit of a blog an old friend of mine used to keep called THE RANTING ROOM…


For some time now, I’ve pondered what to say about my neighborhood, just two kilometers closer to the city than where I grew up. I live in the worst suburb of Minneapolis: https://www.roadsnacks.net/these-are-the-10-worst-minneapolis-suburbs/        

The criteria we were judged by are listed below. (“FYI: We defined a suburb as being within 30 miles of Minneapolis.”)

  • High unemployment rate
  • Low median household incomes
  • Low population density (no things to do)
  • Low home values
  • A lot of high school drop outs
  • High poverty
  • High rate of uninsured families

So, extrapolating, Brooklyn Center has the highest unemployment rate, the lowest median household income, the lowest population density (nothing to do), lowest home value, a lot of high school dropouts, the highest poverty, and the highest rate of uninsured families in the Twin Cities Area.

So, that’s of the suburbs surrounding Minneapolis. How about the rest of the state? The city of Bemidji is poorest and according to the same survey group, it’s also the WORST place to live in Minnesota. (Brooklyn Center is the sixth worst. Yay.)

As far as the US, no city in Minnesota ranks in the lowest 50…so again, yay.

Why am I writing about this? The main reason is that while you can buy books at Target and Walmart, check them out at Brookdale Library in Brooklyn Center, and maybe find a few at a thrift store (one of which recently closed…), the only REAL bookstore pulled up stakes and fled “the hood” on June 13, 2009, a decade ago.

Currently Humans in Brooklyn Center can eat, shop expensive, shop cheap, get their car tabs renewed and get marriage licenses, go for great bike rides, work out “at the gyms”, eat, and get cigarettes. That’s about it. Oh, they can buy booze from the city or a brand new private source. Yay.

They might be able to buy or check out the latest best seller, but they have to go to another suburb to get anything beyond Harlequins, Thrillers, or the most recent celebrity expose or presidential slap down. It’s unlikely you’d find a science fiction novel, and Walmart doesn’t have a “Philosophy” section; though you CAN feel like you’re up-to-date with the latest British royalty scandal and next week’s soap operas.

Erudition has been eliminated in favor of food, tobacco, alcohol, and “stuff” (not that books aren’t “stuff” – I have the magnet above on my bookshelves that my daughter gave me.) But, once Barnes and Noble evacuated its premises, it pulled down the walls of learning. Granted that they weren’t selling enough books to make a commercial go of it, but I wonder sometimes why it didn’t make any attempt to become a niche distributer.

What if, instead of closing and claiming that “everyone” was reading ebooks – or not reading at all…

“…traits that characterize non-book readers also often apply to those who have never been to a library. In a 2016 survey, we found that Hispanics, older adults, those living in households earning less than $30,000 and those who have a high school diploma or did not graduate from high school are the most likely to report they have never been to a public library.” (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/09/26/who-doesnt-read-books-in-america/)

…bookstores or libraries tailored their offerings to the community. I don’t mean that people could say, “Oh, Webber Park doesn’t need any Shakespeare, W.E.B. Dubois, Octavia Butler, or Renita Weems! They’ll be fine with ESSENCE Magazine, Pete McDaniel, and Bill Reynolds!”

But I think they’d draw more people if they TAILORED the books they sold. Also, I had an idea when the store I was working at was about to close around me – everyone knows B&N discounted books. They also know that there were Clearance! tables. But what if someone had created a B&N Outlet store? It certainly seems to work north of where I live – Levi’s, Hanes, Crocs, Adidas, Mrs. Fields, Subway, Sunglasses Hut, and an uncounted number of others – everyone I know makes a trip there a field trip! They come back with food, clothing, shoes, kitchen stuff, and who knows what else?

I know what they come away with OUT: books. There’s no bookstore anywhere near the Outlet Mall – in fact with two exceptions, there are only two books stores inside of a thirty-mile radius…

Sad, eh?

Does that mean the people near Albertville read ONLY electronic books? According to the survey: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/09/25/one-in-five-americans-now-listen-to-audiobooks/, that’s unlikely.

Does that mean the people near Albertville ONLY buy their books online? Again, though I can’t find anything specifically about it, some of the other studies indicate that online buying, while important, won’t ever overtake “brick-and-mortar” shopping completely.

What I DO wonder about is that as the number of people reading – science fiction, fantasy, horror, or ANYTHING – has been decreasing, the number of people arguing loudly and with shaky intellectual foundations and facts, seems to be increasing. At least, I have yet to hear, “A book I was reading recently by an unnamed philosopher pointed out…” on a nightly news broadcast. Sound bites seem to have overtaken thorough, personal, directed research as the source of information: “Well, I saw on the news last night…” or, “I was looking at my Snapchat, and I saw that…” appear to be a more frequently quoted source than “I was reading Ibram X. Kendi’s newest book, HOW TO BE ANTI_RACIST, and he noted that…”

According to Lisa Cron points out in her book, WIRED FOR STORY: “We’re wired to turn to story to teach us the way of the world…As readers we need a notion of the big picture, so we have an idea where we’re going, why, and what’s at stake for the protagonist. This not only triggers the sense of urgency that catapults us into the story, it’s also what allows us to make sense of what’s happening from beginning to end…It’s a tall order, but why not try to follow John Irving’s admittedly glib suggestion: ‘Whenever possible, tell the entire story of the novel in the first sentence.’…Ask yourself: What is the scope of my story? What journey will my reader take? Have I made it clear? Don’t be afraid of ‘giving it all away’ on the very first page. Be specific, be clear, don’t hold back. Remember, you’re giving readers what they crave: a reason to care, a reason to be curious, and enough info to understand what the stakes are.”

As speculative fiction writer, I’m worried about this trend and our behavior in public today…and I'm worried about what happened in the sixth worst city in Minnesota (and the worst SUBURB of Minneapolis/St. Paul...) without any sort of real bookstore...


October 1, 2019

IDEAS ON TUESDAYS 416


Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc.) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

H Trope: Ancient tombs discovered/cursed/releases monster/mummy & fairy dust
SF: Starship Troopers
F Trope: Elves, gnomes and Halflings
Western Trope: Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman
Romance Trope: Beauty and the beast
Current Events:

Rayyan Brakus powered his exoskeleton armor up and swung down from the troop transport. Granted, he was supposed to be eighteen; granted, he’d lied about his age.

But when the InterWar recruiter had shown up at the base of Butte Vertical Village in their shiny starship, offering lots of cash and a life of adventure, Rayyan ran to place his thumbprint. His ID didn’t show that he was 16 and a half. It showed he was 22. So what if the recruiter’d said, “You bring your cat along to lick your whiskers off, soldier?”

Rayyan snorted, blowing a blot of snot on the inside of his faceplate. He reached up to wipe it away, remembered it was inside and ignore the other soldiers who laughed at him. He’d show THEM!

He clomped down the ramp, stepped to one side and stopped, scanning. A bleak place, this world. Looked like lots of dunes, dead trees and boulders – some sort of adobe village a couple klicks. Command channel blasted into his ears, “Target acquired. Mumiyah’s Cavern has been partially secured. Local resistance armed and should be considered dangerous. Squads Delta and Theta proceed with caution. Air support unavailable.”

Rayyan felt his stomach drop to his feet then sprinted to follow the rest of Theta Squad. His first live combat mission...

He wasn’t expecting the attack. He should have been, but they’d never trained against cavalry.

Horses ridden by midgets. With bazookas. Trying to kill him. “Not me personally!” he shouted into his helmet as he fired into the mob with his stunner. There wasn’t any reason to…

A female midget – sorta hot looking, he noticed before she sprayed something on his armor – swung a mass-balanced lance that glowed as it cut through the first layer physical defense then was deflected by the monomolecular fluid underlayer.

Deflecting the lance, the inertia transferred to him, her speed and weight knocking him over. Instead of a hard crash, it felt like he’d fallen on sponges. The midget on her full-sized horse, was wearing a cowboy hat and clenched a cigar between her teeth. She raised a mace and shouting, brought it down on his helmet.
****

Vesna Lobato stared down at the man wrapped in bug scales and shook her head. Polish him up a bit and he might be a good-looking boy. A bit older that her little brother, his blonde hair was snarled, the fabric body suit was soaking wet from the dissolution of the armor by her fairy dust. She was reasonably certain the dust was no longer potent, though she’d had at least ten soldiers of the hundred the Imperial Mounted Police had repelled from Mumiyah’s Cavern – die. Their skin liquefied, sloughing from the bones. The screams made her shudder.

But it wasn’t like she was fighting people. They were soldiers, impersonal, caring nothing for the cultures of the New West. They wanted only to dig out its secrets and turn them into another weapon to subjugate the worlds!

She lifted the lance to strike the youngster’s head off.

“Hold your blade, Vesna!”

“Why, brother? He’d have killed me if I hadn’t knocked him down first.”

Her brother looked down at the soldier and said, “If nothing else, we can strip out of his brain what he thinks he knows about the Cavern.”

She lifted her blade, took a deep breath and said, “I’ll stop my lance – but only ‘cause I might ask him out on a date before we magick out his brain.” She wheeled on her horse and headed back into town.

Name source: (m) Malaysia, Greek; (f) Macedonia, Portuguese        
Image:

September 29, 2019

WRITING ADVICE – Lisa Cron #11: The Reader Expects a Loudly Ticking Clock


In 2008, I discovered how little I knew about writing after hearing children’s writer, Lin Oliver speak at a convention hosted by the Minnesota Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. To learn more – and to satisfy my natural tendency to “teach stuff”, I started a series of essays taking the wisdom of published writers and then applying each “nugget of wisdom” to my own writing. During the six years that followed, I used the advice of a number of published writers (with their permission) and then applied the writing wisdom of Lin Oliver, Jack McDevitt, Nathan Bransford, Mike Duran, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, SL Veihl, Bruce Bethke, and Julie Czerneda to an analysis of my own writing. Together these people write in genres broad and deep, and have acted as agents, editors, publishers, columnists, and teachers. Today I add to that list, Lisa Cron who has worked as a literary agent, TV producer, and story consultant for Warner Brothers, the William Morris Agency, and others. She is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences, and a story coach for writers, educators, and journalists. Again, with permission, I am using her article, “A Reader’s Manifesto: 15 Hardwired Expectations Every Reader Has for Every Story” (2/16/18 http://blog.creativelive.com/essential-storytelling-techniques/)

Onward then. Cron writes, “The reader expects a clear, present and escalating force of opposition, with a loudly ticking clock.”

What exactly does that mean? I guess I thought ALL stories are supposed to have this element – tension that drives the story from the beginning. And yet, do I always do this? Maybe examining the first sentences of my most recent publications would help to see if I got this right or not.


“As readers we expect a clear, concise idea of what the escalating consequence will be should the protagonist ultimately fail, and a ticking clock counting down to that consequence. That’s what stokes the mounting urgency we feel as she struggles to solve the problem before it’s too late. If we don’t know where it’s going, and what the obstacles are, we can’t anticipate what might happen next…Is the force of opposition clear, and can we see where it’s headed? Does it escalate? Can the reader anticipate what will happen next, why, and what we’re counting down to?”
                                          
While she doesn’t explicitly state this, my guess would be that in a short story, this needs to start from the very beginning. Say, the first sentence or two…in the first paragraph at least, I would expect.

Let’s start with my work-in-progress. At this point, while I know WHERE I’m going, I’m having serious trouble starting it. [I just realized as I typed the previous sentence that I have, perhaps WAY too much going on in this story. By an analogy: my wife and I watched the first season of a British baking competition. One of the challenges was to bake a layered cake. One of the contestants had so many layers that they all “mooshed” together to become indistinguishable from one another. Perhaps that’s what I’ve done to myself here…]

So, the first sentence: “In the dream, my late wife stretched out next to me wearing a brief, red silk pajama top. Her eyes said that there was exactly one thing on her mind. Then a raccoon tossed a popcorn into the air and snapped it up and said to me, ‘Have you ever seen wild corn?’”

While all of these elements play into the story as it progresses, I’ve currently got way too many layers here. Maybe if I narrow the story down to a single one rather than one that involves the Shabe, the Pak/Gref, the Krrlgrrbitz, a Mynosaur, the Sand, and Humans…wow. Confusing. I guess I know what I’ll be doing today as it rains…

The first sentence in my soon-t0-be published short story (ANALOG, November/December 2019): “Larry Henry was muttering in the Orion Lunar lander mockup when Mission Control interrupted their regularly scheduled disaster. He was alone today, simulating the death of the rest of the crew.”

WOW. I love that first sentence! No wonder the editor bought it.

The next is from a short story that’s been bounced four times already and is awaiting review at another publication: “Tiviifei Jones straightened, no longer leaning on his cane as the gMod platform sank to the ground. The Human Cemetery and Memorial was still, cool, Earth green, and vast. A final resting place for ten thousand, four hundred, and eighty-two Weldon colonists slaughtered by invading aliens.”

Hmmm…I know where this is going, but the alien first name and the gMod platform. That segues into the third sentence which DOES imply an escalation. I wonder what Tiviifei is doing there. Why a cemetery? Why the visit? OK – perhaps it’s OK; on the other hand, I can see why it may have been bounced.

My most recent published story (Nebula Tales Issue Four, https://www.amazon.com/Nebula-Tales-Issue-Various-Authors/dp/1688967206): “Baek Pi Ji-woo stepped from railroad tie to railroad tie, bundled in her well-worn, quilted Russian jacket, and heavy boots with hard soles. Frigid winds lashed around her. Pausing, she looked up to the distant, pine wrapped, snow blown mountains. She could turn off the rail, walk away, to disappear into the forest. She would tire eventually, lie down, fall asleep in the snow, and never wake.” (OK, so I’m fudging a bit…these are not all the first sentence…)

Lastly, my most recent ANALOG story (September/October 2019): “Javier Quinn Xiong Zaman clicked on the last email in the clinic’s queue and read, ‘Doctor Scrabble, the supply of Dicraeia warmingii you adjusted has reached abundant proportions and the female Goliath Bullfrog appears not only ready to drop her eggs but to deliver an auspicious number, perhaps even enough to assure…’
“From somewhere overhead, he heard a loud bang and scowled. The nightly stream of maglev trains started an instant later, bringing scavenged materials from the DEconstruction And Recycling Robots – DEARRs – to the Minneapolis St Paul Vertical Village. The ground shook and a faint whine reached him even a kilometer west of the tracks. Probably something going on with that abomination.”

Hmmm…this isn’t that great. In fact, the actual story has nothing to do with the bullfrog eggs, the DEARRs, or even MSP Vertical Village…

Each of the publications I sent my most recently bounced story to are top of their field. Currently, the actual first sentences of their current issues:

Clarkesworld (September 2019): “I know what Dave wants even before he says it, before I’ve even taken off my stupid work cap or thrown my keys on top of the pile of crap beside the door. He’s taken his head off again…” (Technically not the first sentence, but there you go.)

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (January 2019): “Abby opened the till and found crumbled bits of dry leaves in the stacks of five-dollar bills.”

Asimov’s (September/October 2019): “The land slept hard, after months blanketed beneath deep snow. Seeds nestled in the soil, frozen on the cusp of sprouting, and the earth was riddled with slumbering creatures strewn cold in their tunnels, the husks of the dead and of those yet to reawaken.” (Again, not the first sentence.)

OK…there’s no jargon in those first sentences where there is in mine.

Though, other than that, they are, none of them, spectacular; though the second sentence of the first story automatically compels you to read on. The others, not so much (mine included, except for “Kamsahamnida, America” in the November/December ANALOG…that’s good.)

So, I didn’t always follow my own advice, though Lisa Cron doesn’t actually insist that the tension be right at the beginning. However, “As readers we expect a clear, concise idea of what the escalating consequence will be should the protagonist ultimately fail, and a ticking clock counting down to that consequence. That’s what stokes the mounting urgency we feel as she struggles to solve the problem before it’s too late. If we don’t know where it’s going, and what the obstacles are, we can’t anticipate what might happen next…Is the force of opposition clear, and can we see where it’s headed? Does it escalate? Can the reader anticipate what will happen next, why, and what we’re counting down to?”

I guess this is a clear call to me to go back and examine what I’m doing. I AM doing things right; but I’m not doing things as well as I CAN.

Food for thought for myself. Food for thought for you? Let me know.


September 24, 2019

IDEAS ON TUESDAYS 415

Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc.) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.

Popular Horror Story/Series: Goosebumps Books
H Trope: adoring the pests…

It took a while for Austin Ventura, Carmita Rodriguez Cruz, and Paulina Rodriguez Cruz to make it back to Austin’s house. Getting the candied-apple red Jeep Cherokee out of the driveway without starting it was a little tougher than Austin had been hoping.

He started out in the driver seat first, but because his driveway sloped up a little, they couldn’t get it pushed up enough to get it out into the street. Austin jumped out and whispered, “Paulina – you get behind the wheel!”

“I never drove!”

“Do it! Just hold the wheel straight while we push you backwards. I’ll come there and turn the wheel when it’s time!” All around them, was total silence; the dead of night when even burglars and rapists had gone to bed in order to hide their horrific shame from the light of day. If he’d tried to start the Cherokee...

“What are you daydreaming about?” Carmita whispered. “Push!”

Austin did. It took two rolling backs before the SUV was over the hump and into the street.

Then it started rolling backwards. “Hit the brakes!” Austin shouted in a whisper.

“She’s never driven a car, stupid! She doesn’t know what the brakes are!” The two of them chased the car across the street. But not until it hit a garbage can in front of the neighbor’s house. The family had a massively giant can because they only put it out once a month. Most everyone in the neighborhood knew exactly what day that was because the garbage stank to high heaven. And the can was jammed full.

Austin covered his eyes as the can teetered then tipped. There’d been no way to get there fast enough to stop it. No way to keep the month’s-worth of garbage from spilling into the street.

Cockroaches and all. “Ew…” said Carmita, who’d been standing next to him the whole time.

Paulina had scrambled out of the car and was coming around it when she stopped, transfixed by the pile of rot that now seethed with the bodies of the roaches, busily eating. She said abruptly, “Did you know that cockroaches are an important part of the ecology of Earth?” She took a step closer.

Austin and Carmita whispered together, “Don’t go any closer! They’re covered with diseases!”

Paulina looked up at them, laughed, “Not very often and the family appears to still be alive, so the cockroaches haven’t killed them yet.”

Austin looked at Carmita and said, “She LIKES cockroaches?”

Carmita shrugged and said, “It is our great shame.”

Austin sighed and went to the car, saying, “We don’t have any more time to waste. We have to find Carlos.” He hopped in and started it, gesturing for the girls to join him. Then with a spurt of gas, he sent them rolling and turned off the car. As they went downhill, picking up speed, none of them had noticed that they had picked up a few hitchhikers…

Names: Mexico, Mexico; Minnesota, Italy (= “baby in the woods”, “foundling”); Spanish form of French name
Image: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_OCWXw6InF70/TKigMBk87NI/AAAAAAAAAy4/tL7MhIfL9CM/s1600/2212_1025142570.jpg

September 22, 2019

Slice of PIE: I WISH I Could Be A Hopepunk Writer, but I Don’t Qualify…

Using the Program Guide of the World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, Ireland in August 2019 (to which I will be unable to go (until I retire from education)), I will jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide. The link is provided below where this appeared on page 25…

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE HAS POLITICAL AND DEEPER-THAN-USUAL CHRISTIAN OVERTONES. DON'T READ IT IF YOU ARE OFFENDED BY SUCH.

Introduction to hopepunk
Alexandra Rowland coined the term ‘hopepunk’ in a Tumblr post in 2017, saying that: ‘…the opposite of Grimdark is Hopepunk’. Our panel will discuss what the term means and how hopepunk intersects with other speculative subgenres such as grimdark, noblebright, and solarpunk, as well as offering reading recommendations.

Sam Hawke: Lawyer, writer.
Jo Walton: Hugo and Nebula award winning novelist, blogger at Tor.com, poet.
Alexandra Rowland: Game monitor at an escape room company, seamstress, and writer.
Lettie Prell: Science fiction writer.

I have never heard of this, but it’s probably what I’d write if I could get it published.

Of course, it EMPHATICALLY does not include me: in the article resourced below: “Hopepunk says that genuinely and sincerely caring about something, anything, requires bravery and strength. Hopepunk isn’t ever about submission or acceptance: It’s about standing up and fighting for what you believe in. It’s about standing up for other people. It’s about DEMANDING a better, kinder world, and truly believing that we can get there if we care about each other as hard as we possibly can, with every drop of power in our little hearts.”

It's obviously about excluding Christianity as an ultimate hope because (it seems), God isn't a necessary component for goodness.

Rowland, the article points out, “…was responding to the idea of “grimdark” — a literary descriptor for genre texts and media which evoke a pervasively gritty, bleak, pessimistic, or nihilistic view of the world…in which cruelty is a given and social systems are destined to betray or disappoint.” It’s also, apparently political as the article subtitle makes clear, “In the era of Trump and apocalyptic change, Hopepunk is a storytelling template for #resistance — and hanging onto your humanity at all costs.” And of course, the prime advocate of this #resistance had no political connection or motivation and was merely a humble representative for a political party that had the good of all people everywhere in mind: Andrew Slack noted that JK Rowling and JRR Tolkien ‘readied us for a message of hope, change, and global citizenry [that was advocated by] Barack Obama,’ he wrote, noting that Obama’s presidency was also ‘met by a giant swell of popularity around fantasies that dwelled in the darkness: vampires, dystopias, and Heath Ledger’s nihilist Joker.’ In essence, grimdark.”

Of course, the movement apparently feels Jesus was “a good man” as Rowland was quoted in an article that followed up on her Twitter invention of the new literary category: “…she crucially offered examples of both mythical and real-world political figures: ‘Jesus and Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Robin Hood and John Lennon’ — heroes who chose to perform radical resistance in unjust political climates, and to imagine better worlds.” (She might want to read CS Lewis’ response to her inclusion on her list: https://caldronpool.com/c-s-lewis-destroys-unbelievers-who-think-jesus-was-a-good-man/)

Wow! Jesus (who was, apparently, mythical) resisted…Rome? The Jewish establishment? living in an “unjust political climate”, and accordingly, imagined a better world. Through sacrificing His life?

According to the author of this piece, hopepunk is “…a perfect aesthetic accompaniment to the…philosophy that aggressively choosing kindness, optimism, and softness over hardness, cynicism, and violence can be a powerful political choice….[it] says that ‘kindness and softness doesn’t equal weakness,’ Rowland wrote in her expanded definition, ‘and that in this world of brutal cynicism and nihilism, being kind is a political act,’ [combining] the aesthetics of choosing gentleness with the messy politics of revolution…”

The end of the article elucidates the books, stories, authors, and trumpets the advent of a spectacular new concept apparently invented by Millenials: “Rowland’s original hopepunk definition has now been widely shared and discussed throughout the sci-fi and fantasy community, in online forums and in panel discussions at a number of conventions, and writers have frequently started to describe their own works as hopepunk…panel[s] on hopepunk and optimistic sci-fi/fantasy…N.K. Jemisin, whose works carry themes of resistance in a time of apocalypse and bear sharp signifiers of hopepunk…As the first black woman to nab the top prize in 2016, and then the first writer to win it three years in a row thanks to her 2017 and 2018 repeat wins, Jemisin’s 2018 win became a moment of convergence in which literary hopepunk evolved into real-world activism — a show of defiance in an ongoing battle against radical right-wing extremism within the sci-fi/fantasy community. [Which, oddly, appears to have been unnoticed since the inception of SFWA in 1966.] In recognizing her work, with its themes of finding humanity and love amid apocalyptic change, Hugo voters sent a message that they would not allow blights like racism to undermine the sci-fi community’s humanism and idealism [which they HAD been for nearly a century...which see, one example: the identities of James Tiptree, Jr. and CJ Cherryh and the consistent snubbing of any number of SF/F writers]…Ever since, Hopepunk has seemed to be suddenly everywhere, becoming a true force in the literary landscape in the last couple months of 2018: At IO9, Eleanor Tremeer argued that we need utopian fiction now more than ever; the piece didn’t explicitly identify hopepunk, but many of its readers did…The Verge announced its upcoming Better Worlds science fiction series, intended to promote sci-fi…Tor wrote about “high epic fantasy hopepunk…As the idea of hopepunk has caught on, many people have expressed gratefulness to Rowland for coining the term. When I first introduced and explained the term to Slack, for example, he wrote me an ebullient 15-paragraph email, exclaiming, “This is some seriously important and sacred [crap]!”…Part of the reason that hopepunk feels so important in the current moment is that two years into Donald Trump’s presidency, it’s arguably difficult for many people to stay motivated and alert to the many political crises happening at once. Hopepunk, then, is a way of drawing energy and strength from fictional inspirations in order to keep fighting the good fight in the real world…This is not an easy task,” Slack wrote. “It shakes us to our core. But hopepunk reminds us to thank…goodness that we have such a beautiful core.” (Apparently hopepunk includes the vigorous use of vulgarity to emphasize how devoted you are to its ideals…)

This shining movement, a testament to all things Humanly Wonderful, has totally ignored at least one author who wrote peaceful, tranquil science fiction decades ago and whom few people read now because he DIDN’T write about empires, kingdoms, and Obama. He wrote hope in an era spanning the Great Depression, WWII, Korea, past Vietnam, through the Iranian hostage crisis (overseen by then president and a proponent of not only hopepunk, but of old-fashioned HOPE, Jimmy Carter) and almost to the Fall of Communism.

Clifford D. Simak, I daresay, was one of the original hopepunk writers…oops…sorry, I guess he can’t be. He believed in God, which also appears to be a necessity for being a hopepunk writer…

Dang! I was hoping I could be a hopepunk writer, but I wouldn’t qualify. At least I’m in good company…

Image: https://fq8ku9wqwk7gai1z3frl16nd-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/HOPEPUNK-100-996x515.jpg

September 18, 2019

IDEAS ON TUESDAYS 414

Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc.) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them. Regarding Fantasy, this insight was startling: “I see the fantasy genre as an ever-shifting metaphor for life in this world, an innocuous medium that allows the author to examine difficult, even controversial, subjects with impunity. Honor, religion, politics, nobility, integrity, greed—we’ve an endless list of ideals to be dissected and explored. And maybe learned from.” – Melissa McPhail.

Fantasy Trope: The Mundane World versus the Magical World (http://darkmythology-dark234.blogspot.com/2011/05/monster-of-yoruba-mythology.html)

A Library to rival the one at Alexandria is nearly done in the center of the Sahara in the Erg of Bilmah. The dark forces of America: Jersey Devils, Yuma Skeletons, Wampus Cats, Bigfoot, Headless Horsemen, Mosquitoes, Trickster Coyotes, Maids in the Mist and Pecos Bill and his legions have been unable to stop the mundane efforts of a young man in America as he makes his way to the Library with a powerful book of spells. It’s now us to the forces of the legendary Sahara: mummies, Ewaipanoma, monster scorpions, giant Desert Rattlers, raging sandstorms, the Kelb-el-Khela and an abiku sent to steal him before he gets old enough to stop him from bringing to book to the Library and locking it away for all time…

Na’Rodney Jones Castillo-Vargas Daylight Hatshepsut – known as Na’Rodney to his friends...when he had friends. He shook his head. He had a mission. He hiked his pack up on his shoulders. They’d escaped the dearrs outside of Ely. They’d eventually made it to what remained of the city of Duluth. Selling a first edition copy of Stephen King’s novel, CARRIE had gotten them enough to pay their way as they hitchhiked south to the future Vertical Village of Minneapolis St Paul

Angelique Mary Ozaawindib, longtime friend of his great uncle’s and now the bane of his existence, muttered, “I thought we were supposed to buy transportation south.”

“We’re going south. I think we should save our money.”

“That’s because you have a good pair of walking boots.”

“You could have brought yours. G’uncle had a pair of them in the shelter.”

She snorted as they crunched through pile of dried leaves. Farther north, where they’d started, the burned-out remains of the home he’d grown up in lay on the outskirts of Ely. Farther behind them, silent but obedient, his brother Payne – not really his brother, his second cousin or something like that, G’uncle Bruce had never been real clear on their relationship – had walked tirelessly. Na’Rodney shot a look over his shoulder. Angelique said, “He’ll be all right, Rod.”

“I don’t know what I’m going to do with him,” he said faintly. The last thing in the world he wanted to do was appear weak in front of Angelique. Not because he cared what she thought of him, but because somebody had to lead their group and it sure as heck wasn’t going to be Payne or Angelique! He said, “I don’t know where he got all those wild ideas about wampus cats, Pecos Bill, and...”

Though he’d been silent for miles, Payne spoke up now, “They’re all real, Na’Rodney! They’re out to get us! To get you! They don’t like the books you’re carrying. They don’t want us to go to the Erg of Bilma!”

Na’Rodney and Angelique stopped in their tracks and turned slowly to face Payne. He was looking at both of them. His eyes were wide; the pupils nearly black. Rod stepped back  to Payne, holding out his hands. “What did you say, Payne?”

“They don’t want us to go, Na’Rodney! They want us to go back home.”

Na’Rodney looked back at Angelique, then at Payne, “Payne. Listen to me. Bruce is gone.”

“When will he get back?”

“He won’t be coming back,” Na’Rodney said, hanging  his head. How could he make Payne understand?

Suddenly, Payne said, “G’uncle’s dead, Rod. I know that. But the things – the American ghosts and monsters – they don’t want us to go. They want to kill us.” His eyes grew wider momentarily, seemed to glow and abruptly a darker, deeper, gravelly voice came from his mouth and said...

Names: ♀ French, Hebrew, Ojibwe; ♂ African American, English, Mexican, English, Egyptian

September 15, 2019

WRITING ADVICE: Can I Use “Old” Ideas To Create New Stories? Aladdin, From A THOUSAND AND ONE ARABIAN NIGHTS (sort of…)


In September of 2007, I started this blog with a bit of writing advice. A little over a year later, I discovered how little I knew about writing after hearing children’s writer, Lin Oliver speak at a convention hosted by the Minnesota Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Since then, I have shared (with their permission) and applied the writing wisdom of Lin Oliver, Jack McDevitt, Nathan Bransford, Mike Duran, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, SL Veihl, Bruce Bethke, and Julie Czerneda. Together they write in genres broad and deep, and have acted as agents, editors, publishers, columnists, and teachers. Since then, I figured I’ve got enough publications now that I can share some of the things I did “right”.

While I don’t write full-time, nor do I make enough money with my writing to live off of it...neither do all of the professional writers above...someone pays for and publishes ten percent of what I write. When I started this blog, that was NOT true, so I may have reached a point where my own advice is reasonably good. We shall see! Hemingway’s quote above will now remain unchanged as I work to increase my writing output and sales! As always, your comments are welcome!

Today, I thought I’d say something all on my own, unsupported by my published or unpublishable works

My grandkids, daughter-in-law, wife, my son’s mother-in-law, and I watched the recent DVD released Disney’s “Aladdin”. The tale itself is old, though not part of the original Arabic “One Thousand and One Nights” which was recorded in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age though “not being part of the original Arabic text. It was added to the collection in the 18th century by the Frenchman Antoine Galland, who acquired the tale from storyteller Hanna Diyab. Historians consider Diyab the original author of ‘Aladdin’, with the tale partly having been inspired by Diyab's own life.” The story has been done dozens of times in venues ranging from the original story written some time before 1688 and told by its author, Syrian Diyab; to a British pantomime in 1788; to a Canadian video game in 2016.

Aside from the fact that Will Smith is a hero of mine – for all his body of work, not just his speculative fiction parts (“Independence Day”, “Men In Black”, “Hancock”, “I Am Legend”, the pre-production “Gemini Man”, and “I, Robot”, even “The Legend of Bagger Vance” – “Ali” was great and I love “In Pursuit of Happyness”. At any rate, I remember hearing speculation about whether or not he could pull off a part automatically associated with the late Robin Williams – Genie.

I think he did, but that’s not where I’m really headed today.

After watching the movie, I commented to my wife that while Disney had managed to retain the magic of the cartoon version, they’d made a subtle change that I applauded even more: Jasmine went from a strong-will Daughter Of The Sultan to a savvy – even brilliant – politician who had her eye on the throne of the mythical Arabian Sultanate (as opposed to a caliphate and an emirate (as in United Arab Emirates) because she both loved the land and people – in fact, she meets Aladdin because she’s going about among them in disguise. The story, which I’m sure originated as one of the :

“A caliphate is an Islamic state under the leadership of an Islamic steward with the title of caliph, a person considered a political-religious successor to the Islamic prophet Muhammad and a leader of the entire ummah (Muslim community).”

“An emirate is a political territory that is ruled by a dynastic Arabic or Islamic monarch-styled emir. The term may also refer to a kingdom…Etymologically emirate is the quality, dignity, office, or territorial competence of any emir (prince, commander, governor, etc.)…The United Arab Emirates is a federal state that comprises seven federal emirates, each administered by a hereditary emir, these seven forming the electoral college for the federation's President and Prime Minister…Furthermore, in Arabic the term can be generalized to mean any province of a country that is administered by a member of the ruling class, especially of a member (usually styled emir) of the royal family, as in Saudi Arabian governorates.”

Sultan is a position with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic abstract noun meaning ‘strength’, ‘authority’, ‘rulership’…it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who claimed almost full sovereignty in practical terms (i.e., the lack of dependence on any higher ruler), albeit without claiming the overall caliphate, or to refer to a powerful governor of a province within the caliphate. The adjective form of the word…[is] the dynasty and lands ruled by a sultan are referred to as a sultanate…The term is distinct from king, despite both referring to a sovereign ruler. The use of ‘sultan’ is restricted to Muslim countries, where the title carries religious significance…”

(all above are taken from the entry in Wikipedia)

At any rate, the idea of a prince, princess, king, queen, etc. going out to hobnob with commoners isn’t new or singular to any culture (https://www.reddit.com/r/history/comments/87ve5x/did_kingsqueens_ever_dress_up_as_commoners_and/) and has become a trope (https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething) actually it’s a SUB-trope of this one: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/KingIncognito), though apparently now the live-action Jasmine has her own category (along with Princess Leia Organa): https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PoliticallyActivePrincess. (Which actually doesn’t surprise me at all as Disney owns both of them.

The fact that Jasmine changed from a passive character (while falling in love with Aladdin, of course) to a politically active one is a definite improvement to the movie. I enjoyed the secondary love interest between genie and Jasmine’s maid servant as well, mostly because I like that “old romantic” aspect of him (he’s FIFTY!!!!!)

I have no doubt that while the heart of the story has remained the same for over three centuries and survived the telling through countless translations – minimally from Arabic to French to English – it has also changed through the telling. I found a hint that someone, somewhere is going to take Aladdin, Jasmine, and the genie to the 35th Century in “Aladdin 3477 – 1: The Jinn of Wisdom”. Could be interesting, certainly…

But what if I used that story heart to write a completely different story. The 1995 movie “Clueless” was loosely based on Jane Austen’s masterpiece, EMMA though the resemblance is only noticeable to people who have read Jane Austen. Even though it was barely recognizable, it made bank. I think I could use “Aladdin” to write a science fiction story that might not be recognizable, either, yet owe its life to the tale. I’ll keep you posted.