Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Flurbs from R’lyeh

Issue #4 of Rudy Rucker’s Flurb is now live. With the kind permission of John Pelan, Rudy is running my story “The Vicar of R’lyeh,” which was written for John’s anthology The Cthulhuian Singularity. Every now and then, writing a Cth-Mythos story is a way of remembering my roots; it must be a little like playing covers or doing remixes of songs you love, if you’re a musician. I’ve got at least one more I’m mind-tinkering with, concerning Egyptian archaeology, Egyptian terrorism and the Beloved of Nyarlat.


There’s great stuff in this issue of Flurb, including work by John Kessel, Kim Stanley Robinson and Kathleen Ann Goonan. Also, Gustav Flurbert, which was the first attempt to do a multi-part collaboration using Googledocs. This splattery composition, “Irene Leaves the Werehouse,” was rather constrained, but I hope to orchestrate more ambitious works, with a lot more simultaneous collaborators, in the future. Maybe on this very site.

New Flurb

Flurb #3 is out. Rudy keeps extracting things I didn’t know I had to give, old promises I forgot I might have made. Might have.


Anders, DiFilippo, Gunn, Herbert, Laidlaw, Metzger, Quaglia, Rucker, Saknussemm, Shirley, Sirius, Tonnies, and Watson!

God to Earth: “Cry More, Noobs!”

Many months ago, Wired solicited a bunch of six-word stories in the manner of Hemingway. Mine got cut from the print edition (also, many months ago) because of an admittedly horrible page design (I saw it and it warn’t pretty), but these things tend to have a longer life on the web anyway:

God to Earth: “Cry more, noobs!”

“Help! Trapped in a text adventure!”

More here.

The Master of Ballantrae

The finest Robert Louis Stevenson novel I hadn’t read, The Master of Ballantrae (1889) blends the high-seas piracy of Kidnapped! and Treasure Island, with Jekyll & Hyde‘s dark doubled vision of humanity. It seems to have had a strong influence on Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Sharer (1909), of which I was vividly reminded during certain long discussions in a ship’s cabin during a storm. And toward the stripped-down end of the novel, it turns into a grim frontier adventure reminiscent of Antonia Bird’s sublime Ravenous.

Highly recommended. Not all that hard to find online.

Robert Louis Stevenson.jpg

“Before us was the high range of mountains toward which we had been all day deviously drawing near. From the first light of the dawn, their silver peaks had been the goal of our advance across a tumbled lowland forest, thrid with rough streams, and strewn with monstrous boulders; the peaks (as I say) silver, for already at the higher altitudes the snow fell nightly; but the woods and the low ground only breathed upon with frost. All day heaven had been charged with ugly vapours, in the which the sun swam and glimmered like a shilling piece; all day the wind blew on our left cheek barbarous cold, but very pure to breathe. With the end of the afternoon, however, the wind fell; the clouds, being no longer reinforced, were scattered or drunk up; the sun set behind us with some wintry splendour, and the white brow of the mountains shared its dying glow.”

I have no doubt that my recent one-day sojourn in Roatan spurred a renewed interest in Stevenson, but I ended up glomming onto this instead of any of his South Sea stories.

Virginians for The Virginian

Hey, Virg!We stayed in a funky little cabin at this resort in Winthrop, Washington, several nights ago:

The Virginian

There were Gideon Bibles in every room, but not a single copy of The Virginian, or even a videotape of any one of the numerous movies based on the book. Winthrop earns its place in literary history by somehow inspiring the novel that supposedly gave birth to the Western genre. When I suggested that motel guests might enjoy passing idle motel moments thumbing a copy of the very book that gave the cabin complex its name, the proprietor gave me a somewhat blank and bemused stare. But if you care to send a threadbare thriftstore copy to stock the motel library, I’m sure they wouldn’t object. Or, since they offer wifi, you can read it here while slouching on a springshot naugahyde sofabed:

The Virginian Online

Winthrop is currently swathed in smoke from the 100,000 acre Tripod Fire and everything came home smelling like a campfire. Conveniently, there is a smoke-jumper base situated right outside town, somewhere past the also-convenient Sullivan Cemetary, where many of the grave markers are etched with images of their occupants heading off into pristine mountains on horseback, a vision of the afterlife which I find more evocative than most.

In the evening, the town fills with smoke jumpers eating ice cream. We drove out to the Electrical Co-op and parked there in the night to watch the fires burning on the far side of a near ridge, until we started to worry we had attracted the attention of suspicious locals who parked nearby as if to keep an eye on us. Later I thought they were probably, like us, watching the fire. It is a constant presence above the town, a preoccupation as well as an actual occupation for many of Winthrop’s residents.

And the smoke has followed us home. We saw a burnt sienna pall above the mountains East of Monroe yesterday.