All posts filed under: Short Stories

Ekostories in short fiction.

2047: Short Stories from Our Common Future

I‘m honoured to have a piece included in 2047: Short Stories From Our Common Future, an international climate fiction anthology released last week. My interest was initially piqued when author Tanja Bisgaard approached me with the collection’s premise: 30 years have passed since the release of the Brundtland report, a landmark document from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development that introduced the idea of sustainable development as that “which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.” What will the world be like 30 years from now? With the perception that climate fiction (or cli-fi as it’s now called) tending to be weighty and depressing, I decided to inject some levity into my contribution. “NuVenture™ TEMPO-L QuickStart Guide” is satire through and through; the story takes the form of an instruction manual for the world’s best selling budget-model time machine, poking fun at capitalism’s worst impulses taken to their logical extremes. “So I gathered a group of authors and asked them to write their vision of …

marcovaldo-artwork

Italo Calvino’s Marcovaldo: Seasons in the City

Bedridden with the flu on a recent writing retreat, I had resigned myself to focus on recovery rather than to get any writing done. I had not expected, between the coughing fits and the fever chills, to find new inspiration from a familiar source. But there it was, sitting eye-level on the third shelf of a corner bookcase at a stranger’s vacation rental, all 128 pages of glory: Italo Calvino’s Marcovaldo, translated by William Weaver. My experience with Calvino is uneven. On more than one occasion, my awe of the Italian author’s way with words outpaced my ability to keep up with the quickness of his intellect. I gave up halfway through The Castle of Crossed Destinies because my mind could no longer hold the labyrinth of interconnected narratives together, and while I admired and strove to emulate the stylings of his Cosmicomics, many of those journeys across time, space, and imagination remains beyond my comprehension. Yet when Calvino’s work connects, he leaves an impression upon me unlike any other author. Even as I have professed …

mahogany-clam

Mind of a Clam: Driftfish, A Marine Life Anthology

In light of International Remembrance Day for Lost Species, I’m proud to be a contributor of Driftfish, a new marine life themed anthology put out by Zoomorphic, a UK magazine and micropublisher dedicated to writing that deepens our connection with wildlife and the more-than-human world: “From the hundreds of submissions that we were privileged to read from poets and prose writers from all over the world, we have curated an anthology that we hope reflects Zoomorphic’s core principle: to defend non-human species, we must reconnect our imaginations to them.” – co-editors James Roberts and Susan Richardson My short story, titled “Mind of a Clam”, is inspired by Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics, in which the late and great fabulist takes a germ of science and spins a tale around it, and by Roderick Sloan, a seafood supplier and diver from Norway who was featured in one of my favourite shows called Mind of a Chef – from which this story took its name. An excerpt: “…The entrée won’t be coming for a while, so we have time. Time. Putting up the …

Ants on Bullhorn Acacia

Antspeak and Rocktalk: The Author of Acacia Seeds

Last week I explored Amy Leach’s creative non-fiction and its appeal to wonder and imagination. This week, I would like to turn to fiction and highlight a fantastical tale that does the same. Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Author of Acacia Seeds and Other Extracts from the Journal of Therolinguistics takes place in the future, but does not dwell on new technologies or societies. Exploring the secret languages of things large and small, Acacia Seeds instead tasks my imagination to envision a wholly different way of relating to the world, to see familiar beings in a new light, and to expand my moral horizons to consider the greater community of which humanity is a part of. Deliciously satirical and ethically provocative, Acacia Seeds is one of my favourite works to read and reread, and a wonderful little Ekostory to celebrate Earth Day 2014.

Direction of the Road

It’s All Relative: Le Guin’s Direction of the Road

Last entry on The Botany of Desire explored the social and natural histories of common everyday plants, revealing how they have shaped our values even as we altered them for our own purposes. It serves as a reminder that our connection with the non-human world is not a one-sided affair; it is instead more akin to a partnership. Ignorance of this fact is a chief cause of ecological degradation and existential distress. As we wall ourselves off from the rest of the living world, we become detached from the consequences of our actions have on the surrounding community. To see the world from a non-human perspective helps us reconnect with the world: It can generate awareness and appreciation for other life. It can also cultivate empathy and facilitate big picture thinking. But we as humans are prisoners of our own bodies and experiences. Barring becoming accomplished nature-whisperers, communication and communion with other life forms is difficult, if not impossible. How then can we cross over to view the world from the other side? One way …

Tiptree Love is the Plan Death Wordle

Love is the Plan the Plan is Death!

I usually have to think to come up with catchy titles for my entries, but the work has been done for me this week. Love is the Plan the Plan is Death is a Nebula-winning short story written by James Tiptree Jr., a pseudonym of Alice Sheldon. A trailblazer in fusing “hard” science fiction which focused on science and technology with the sociological and psychological ideas of “soft” science fiction, Tiptree was also a master in exploring the vantage point of the other, the female, and the alien. I first came upon her work in the collection Her Smoke Rose Up Forever and was captivated by the mastery of her prose and the bleakness of her tales.  Love is the Plan the Plan is Death is my favorite story out of that compilation. Unlike the utopian future of the Star Trek universe, Tiptree’s science fiction stories tend to be dark and pessimistic, often exploring the inexorable force of biological determinism and the futility of existence as self-aware individuals. Her tales force me to wonder: Are …

Changing Planes Nna Mmoy Language Word Cloud

Changing Planes: The Nna Mmoy Language

I downloaded the audiobook version of Changing Planes by Ursula K. Le Guin before a trip so I had something to listen to on a flight. I couldn’t resist the purchase upon reading the premise of the short story collection: The airport serves not only as a space to wait for connecting flights, but also as a place where savvy and knowledgeable travelers can explore other planes of existence.  “Changing planes” thus takes on a whole different meaning. Changing Planes is written in the style of a travelogue, providing brief ethnographic vignettes of different fictional civilizations and cultures. The narration deserves a special mention: Gabrielle de Cuir’s dreamy ethereal voice lends itself perfectly to the fantastical voyages found in Changing Planes. Each of the short tales showcases the power and breadth of imagination that is inherent to the speculative fiction genre; Le Guin asks “What if…” and allows the narrative to take shape around the question. What if there was an island of people who never die? What are the consequences of having random people …