Tag Archives: Sci-Fi

Leaden Skies

  

War came. Not as you would expect, on a fiery red horse, but from the Earth beneath us. War grew in the hollows we dug, and festered in the absences we left, waiting for release.

The media showed us pundits yowling about resource consumption — it wasn’t a question of “whether”, but “when”—, and no one could agree on what to do. They pointed at the weather preservers and sipped precious water from blank studio mugs. They waved at distant biospheres and greedily slopped down expensive off-world greens when the cameras looked away.  

But they didn’t talk about the mines.
It seemed like such a small thing then, when it started. Mines would close, dry as a bone, and new ones never opened. The jobless became the homeless, and, in time, the lifeless. A drain on government funding, some argued. Others were too busy dying in the streets to disagree. Favored sons and daughters rode the issue to office, where they lied about the silver.

Too soon they were raiding our hope chests — silver tableware, flatware, tea sets, jewelry, keepsakes, all gone to feed our collective need. It only delayed the inevitable, though. It wasn’t enough to keep catalytic converters in production, or water purifiers in working order.

That’s when we truly became cannibals. Not for flesh, but for resources. Anything and everything that could be scrapped to keep something else running was cannibalized to sate society, and whispers of war became national anthems when they decided someone else had more.

We gather at the county seat to hear the latest propaganda broadcasts on a radio cobbled together from leftovers and remnants; a Frankenstein’s monster of innovation. They speak equally of the bounty of our neighbors’ hoard, and the happiness of those who join the Reclamation to see it brought home.

Happiness.  

The happiness of the walking dead.  

Those proud few who join, never to see home again.

They say “such is the nature of war” from the comfort and security of their palatial bunkers. The rest of us mourn as we farm resources from fields of old technology, and sleep above-ground in fragile houses made of wood and ash.

When the bombs come, we will be the first to go. Then our Mary Shelley radios and Farnsworthian golems will sing to no one of the machinations of our leaders, or the bounty of our neighbors. They will stare at the leaden sky with reclaimed features fixed in place by warped fittings and ancient purpose.

And we will be gone, as if by design.

My great-grandmother thought we would kill the Earth with deforestation and global warming. In the end, though, it was never the planet we were killing; it was ourselves. The planet will limp along in our wake with more than enough microbial resources to start something new, but we will be forever gone.

I say none of this to my daughter as I tuck her into bed, though. For her, tomorrow is not set in stone.

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The Ravages of Time (and Egomaniacal Writers)

tardises

I still call myself a “Time Lord” (“Time Lady” when I’m being accurate with another fan), but I no longer call myself Whovian. And the period of time when I did call myself such was very small.

Mostly I blame Steven Moffat.

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Pictured: The Face of Evil, collapsing under the weight of its own ego.

He wound us up with episodes like Silence in the Library, and Blink, which single-handedly (together) convinced us that his takeover as head writer would herald an age of darkness (in the good way), and Gothic horror.  You know, like that episode written by Neil Gaiman.

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The Doctor’s Something-Or-Other.  Wife.  That’s it.  (But which is what?!)

Instead, we got darkness (in the sad way), and a horrifying dismissal of all pre-established lore in the Whoverse, including things he, himself, established in the episodes he wrote under Russell T. Davies. And all of it executed in such a short-sighted infantile fashion — why, the first three seasons under his reign played out more like the convoluted fever dreams of a child-fan than an accomplished, professional writer. I actually accused him (though not to his face, because we’ve never met — and ONLY because we’ve never met) of using his own childhood fan fiction (complete with hand-decorated giant binder) as the basis for every episode he wrote.

Back Camera

And this is just what he wrote in third grade!  He really is a genius.

Every episode was an extreme; going from “How’s your tea?” to “WE’RE LITERALLY ALL DYING RIGHT THIS SECOND!” and back down to “What do you suppose you’ll wear for dinner?” by the end, you were either exhausted, or completely disengaged when the credits rolled. And, where before you could track the progress of tension through an entire season (with peaks and valleys for each episode), a Moffat season told you in the beginning what the Big Bad would be (or at least what to look out for), and then spent very little time laying actual groundwork for it. His energy went into packing a season’s-worth of excitement into a single episode. Every episode. And everything was wrapped up by the end in a tidy little ribbon. I’m sorry, Steven Moffat, but there are only so many times you can threaten me with the Doctor’s “super-for-reals-this-time-you-guys” death before I stop caring about it, or any danger you try to make me believe he’s in.

Seriously. You’ve proven he’s basically invulnerable and he’s never going to die, so it doesn’t matter what kind of danger he’s in. Yawnsville all the way.

Defeating the Silence

Because, honestly, it was never about whether or not he COULD die. It was about our emotional connection with him in the moment.

With Russel T. Davies and David Tenant we cared that enough damage to his body meant he wouldn’t be Ten anymore, because the Doctor spent so long being desperately afraid of it.  He dreaded this thing — this prophesied thing– so much, he fought as hard against its inevitability as he fought against anything threatening the universe. He went out of his way to put an end to it, to fight what he thought was it. Avoiding the “end of his song” consumed him. So when it finally came and it wasn’t even the apocalyptic scenario he’d spent so much time and energy fighting, we all cared.  Our stomachs plummeted with his when we all realized what it meant.

A lot of that came from within. The Tenth Doctor wanted to remain the Tenth Doctor. It wasn’t the idea that the Doctor was dying and would never live again that made us cry so hard; it was the fact that he so desperately didn’t want to go, and that he had no choice. We mourned that Doctor, because we also knew it was inevitable and unstoppable, because we spent a season fighting his demons with him, and we saw it catch him anyway. He’d cheated regeneration once! But that window had well and truly passed.  There was no way out, and we all knew it.  We spent a whole episode saying goodbye to everyone he loved — everyone we loved — with him.
And then we all cried our hardest when the regeneration finally came.

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When Ten arrived, he taught us that the Doctor is always the Doctor, no matter which Doctor he happened to be at the time. But when he left, he taught us that the Doctor dies every time he’s born again.

All of this mattered, because they took the time to connect us to the moment, and that moment was telegraphed through time with the beating of two hearts heard as drums in the Master’s mind, and four innocent knocks on a simple radiation-proof glass door, specifically so that moment would punch us in the collective gut.

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And it worked.

But, in the Moffat seasons I see episodes that establish an enemy as being the single worst thing to ever happen ( … to exposition). Because that’s how we learn how terrible they are. Not through reactions, or behavior, or casual mention in any moment before, but exclusively in the episode in which they’re meant to be a threat, and exclusively in the Doctor reciting a galactic Wikipedia entry about the threat.  All of time and space to pull from (all the 50+ years of history), and even if the enemy is brought in from the past, there’s a mountain of exposition to contextualize the encounter just for that episode, because it has no greater impact on the rest of the season more often than not.

That is, if it’s not one of the Big Three.

I see convoluted plots attempting to blow our minds with the level of their creativity, but it all means so little to me. It’s all so much “look at what I’ve built!” that I’ve mostly written it out of the lore in my head; it was too damn awful to acknowledge.

River Song

Pictured: As much context per moment as I felt from Moffat’s writing.

 

The final Matt Smith season saw improvement, and a lot of that came from the fact that Moffat was no longer the lead writing name on EVERY of the episodes. Other writers were allowed to take the lead for different episodes, and it got so much better.

Though for me, sadly, it did not improve enough.

For now, when I see promotional pictures, or even something as iconic and once-beloved an image as the TARDIS … I just scroll past. I want nothing to do with it.

The same three enemies recycled endlessly. Dalek, Cybermen, The Master. Dalek, Cybermen, The Master. Eventually, they’re all meaningless; the punchlines of jokes people stopped telling a long time ago.  We don’t believe you when you say they’re defeated.  It worked in the beginning, because we legitimately weren’t expecting them.  Now we know they’ll always be there, so there’s no point pretending they’re gone, even for a minute.

Everything about the show is meaningless for me, now. They don’t give me time or a reason to care about anyone or anything in that universe, anymore. And what reason they do provide, they give through exposition, informing me why I’m SUPPOSED to care, instead of giving me the opportunity to want to care.

I made myself watch the first Capaldi season, as I made myself sit through the terrible Matt Smith seasons (terrible for Moffat, not for Matt), but I finally had to give up.

There’s only so much that love of the Davies years can overcome, and I have gone well past that limit, already. I’ve been clinging to the love of something already gone, and the hope for something that can never be under this Moffat regime, and, as with any relationship with people who have grown too different, there eventually comes a day when you have to admit that what you loved and what you cling to are no longer the same, and it’s time to let it go.

I used to be a Whovian, and for Nine and Ten, I shall quietly remain a fan, but my love ends there. As, sadly, does any last trace of interest in the show.

 

—-

Adalind Monroe is a writer in the Pacific Northwest who is very sorry to end on such a sad, sad note, but it couldn’t be helped.  If you made it this far, she rewards you with a sleepy puppy sticking his tongue out.

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Grandpa Miler Reviews “The Last Tower” by Adalind Monroe

The Last Tower

Writer M.A. Weeden recently shared The Last Tower with his grandfather, an editor for the fledgling indie publisher Frowzy Books, and a man so well-read that terminal bibliophiles look like weekend enthusiasts with no ambition by comparison.  When asked for his opinion on the surrealist sci-fi end-of-days short, Grandpa Miler had quite a lot to say.  I should warn you now, though, that the man probably has fewer filters in place than M.A. Weeden himself, which is to say none.  He has no filters in place.  But that means that peppered in with what is unquestionably inappropriate turns-of-phrase (the best kind) is the kind of unregulated honesty authors need to hear the most, for better or worse.

“Well, he read it twice,” M.A. said as he related his grandfather’s experience with the tale, “because he said he read it the first time with ‘disbelief’.  The second go, he attempted to find a grammatical error, thought he had found a mistake but then when he looked at it further, he discovered that it was SO correct that it appeared wrong in one location.  He said, ‘No one knows that rule anymore’. Though, he could not remember where that was specifically.”

[If you have difficulty thinking of grandfathers and the elderly as people, I suggest you look away at this point, as things are about to get flatteringly inappropriate.]

“I asked him for one sentence,” M.A. continued, “and this was him, verbatim: ‘Flawlessly written, eloquently put, and maddeningly brief.  If she doesn’t write a book soon enough I’m going to call her up myself and bitch her out.  This little story was excellent . . . if I want a constant cock-tease.  Tell her I want payoff dammit!  Write a damn book!'”

Regarding what could easily be mistaken as an amusing amount of ire from Grandpa Miler, M.A. hastened to add “He’s old school, so when he ‘settles in’ for a read, he’s expecting something that will last.  I failed to warn him of its brevity so I took the blame.”  This is not the first time The Last Tower has been called out on its length, though this may be the only mark against it.  Still, it is something to definitely keep in mind while searching for a good read; long The Last Tower is not.

The Last Tower is a foray into the hazy world of the post-apocalyptic with details and colors drawn from dreams and the subconscious machinations of the mind.  Buried beneath the elegant prose and hidden behind the obvious imagery are the things that speak to everyone in unique, and often unpredictable, ways.  There’s something for everyone to discover about themselves as they read, analyze, and enjoy this most recent short story by Adalind Monroe.

—–

[ABOUT THE STUFF]

Adalind Monroe is a writer and part-time Magistrate of Impossibility.  When she’s not up to her eyeballs in world-building, writing, or magistrating all the Impossible Things, she likes to while away the hours conferring with the flowers as an alchemist in Skyrim.

And for those of you who feel your inner Hulks threatening to overwhelm in the face of such excellent writing available only in short form, worry not; the whispers have begun and a novel is in the works.  Stay tuned for periodic updates on “Prince of Darkness”, the first Eleasian Tale by infuriatingly talented Adalind Monroe.

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I Write A Blog Now, Blogs Are Cool.

Hello, Audience!

Let’s imagine for the next few moments that we have assembled in a lovely little library in the English countryside.  The color pallet is warm with dark woods and natural light, accented with cool blues, rich reds, and soothing teals.  The center of the room is dominated by exquisitely comfortable chairs and couches ringed by concentric circles of shelf upon shelf packed full with books, and the air is redolent with the smell of fresh coffee and old paper.  An old Persian rug delights bare toes while protecting the polished oak floor beneath this cabal of comfort.   This is where we will meet to chat about this and that, discuss writing and life, and maybe even learn a few things about ourselves and the world around us.  Mostly, though, it’s where we’ll laugh, because other than sleeping, laughing is my favorite thing ever.

Truth time and full disclosure:  I don’t live in the English countryside, nor do I have this library, but they sure do sound nice, don’t they?  Fear not, though, for soon enough (SOON ENOUGH, DEAR READER!) I will have both these things, and then I’ll invite you all over for coffee and writer chats.  Also there should be a hearth.  Terribly romantic, the hearth.  Perhaps not entirely safe with so much paper and wood around, but it’ll be fine if you don’t insist on roasting marshmallows all the time.  Hm . . . I think that’s the first thing I need to ban in my fictitious library.  No roasting marshmallows.  Sausage should be okay, though.

So, hello and welcome!  As you may have guessed, or read somewhere, or psychically intuited (and if that’s the case, kindly refrain from hanging out in my head as that’s where I keep all my important stuff), I am a writer.  Up and coming, they would say, and they’d be well within their rights to do so.  My genres, as you’re no doubt curious to discover, are predominantly Fantasy and Horror, though I do occasionally make forays into Sci-Fi and Steampunk, or toss them all in an atom smashing Hadron Collider to see what comes out of the resultant explosion of inspiration.  At least, I hope it’s inspiration.  It smells like burnt paper and, for some reason, whiskey, so either it’s inspiration or the ghost of Ernest Hemingway is one unhappy camper.

What’s that?  Why yes, I AM a nerd, in fact.  I think that to some extent all genre writers are, whether they admit it or not, but I most certainly am.  I love the Trek and the Who (well, I mean, I also like The Who, but they’re  not who . . . the Who?  I– never mind), the Potter and the Hobbits, Lemon Demon, Wil Wheaton, Comic Con, [Day9], Felicia Day and The Guild, a little WoW, a little Repo! The Genetic Opera, The Devil’s Carnival, and Terrance Zdunich, and, guys, you guys, seriously, I love H.P. Lovecraft.  HUGE into Lovecraft.  Love . . . Lovecraft.  Yes.  Lovecraft.

This isn’t my first blog, or my first blog about writing, but the other one is . . . dumb.  Well, no, it’s not dumb.  I’ll probably actually re-post some entries here, but I got very excited about documenting the processes that go into Fantasy world-building, which is still just so awesome, but a little too specific, and I wasn’t always doing anything interesting with the world-building when I should have been writing entries about it, so it never went anywhere.  But now there’s this!  And it’s whatever I want it to be!  It will probably be about writer things, but it will probably also have nothing to do with writing, maybe simultaneously, though I suppose seeing that would depend on how many realities you’re reading the blog in, and whether two opposing topics are posted on the same day.

Yes.  I think that all looks to be in order then.  Congratulations on a successful first post, Me!  Now if you can just find it in you to post with enough regularity to keep you some followers, ah, that’s the dream!

*****

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adalind Monroe is one cool cucumber three clicks away from sending ninjas after the people who created this site for making it impossible to do what she really needs to do.  Sure, posting words to a blog is the biggest part of writing a blog, but being kicked out of an unsaved post every time she wants to insert a helpful link to her biographical page, because the ability to add a widget to do that for her is apparently too much to ask for, is so many shades of uncool, you guys.  For reals.  Fix that.

If you can find her author page, check out the links to find her published stories, or search for her directly on Smashwords.com.

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