Who Writes Short Shorts?
First of all, good news.
Altered Seasons: Monsoonrise has been named as a 2018 Foreword Indie Finalist in the field of science fiction. It’s competing against a book of poems by science-fiction legend Robert Silverberg, which is impressive, if daunting. Among the things I’ve been sharing on Twitter have been ultra-short stories. I think this one is the most popular:
The moon fell in love with a princess locked in a tower by the sea. For her sake it raised a tide that let her swim out the window. Seeing the now-drowned city through the water, she wondered what would happen when she had to tell the moon she didn't love it back.
We don’t call it Alpha Centauri B in conversation, of course. Not here. The same way we just call A “the sun,” we call B what it looks like from here—“the gold star.” A reward from some cosmic teacher… or a memorial for those who died to bring us here.
I’m quite proud of this little passage. I started with some dry astronomical facts—the average distance between Alpha Centauri A and B—then considered how B would look from someone on a planet orbiting A at roughly the same distance Earth orbits the sun. An essay by Isaac Asimov that I can’t remember the name of told me it wouldn’t be close enough to have a visible disk but would be (at certain points in its orbit) about 100 times brighter than the full moon—thus, a very bright star. It seemed to me that since Alpha Centauri B is a K7 star, it would have a more strongly yellow cast to its light than our sun or Alpha Centauri A—thus, a gold star. Then I started thinking about the different meanings of “gold star” in our culture, and lo and behold I had something that at least implied the existence of a story. Speaking of things that imply the existence of stories, I plan on fleshing this one out into a novel at some point:
On July 30, 2076, over seven billion miles from Earth, the planetoid 90377 Sedna collapsed into a micron-wide black hole. We don’t know why. It then expanded into something else. We have no idea what. But now we have a reason to go out that far.
Some of them are just sort of light:
Submitted to Ripley’s: After the accident, I had to get prosthetic eyes. My roommate talked me into letting him boost the resolution. Big mistake. Ever try to kiss a girl when her face is crawling with dust mites and you can see every single one of them?
“One last thing, crew. The ship’s new atmosphere recycler can process CO2, but it seems to have trouble with methane. So if everyone could hold in their farts for the next 18 months, that would be great.”
It's true what they say — elephants think humans are cute. Some idiot taught them to use smartphones. Now there’s a herd of them roaming town, filming everybody in sight. And every time one of them gets in the room, nobody wants to talk about it.
This one, as you may recognize, is a riff on this:
This is not a place of honor. No deed is commemorated here. Nothing valued is here. What is here is dangerous and repulsive to us. And it is alive. This is its stronghold. It fell from space. We tried to contain it here. If you can read this, we failed. Run.
These are from the #badwordsat hashtag game, on the topics of (respectively) bad parents and bad bosses, so expect them to be a little uncouth:
It takes a while to realize you have bad parents. It starts with little things—using the word “fuck” a lot, as in “Last night Daddy fucked the babysitter so loud I couldn’t hear ‘Kill Bill’” or “Want to buy some lemonade? Mommy put some ‘Fucking Vodka’ in it.”
The worst motherfuckers in this company to work for, Anal Annie Counter of Pens and Eccentric Jerry the Scatterbrained Skateboarder, are at war for control of the office. I wouldn’t say our loyalties are divided, but we can’t agree on who we want to lose.
Finally, here’s a little Star Wars fanfiction I wrote for Twitter. I hope you enjoy it.