Friday, November 20, 2020

Short Story Released in Audio

It's been a good month!

Very pleased that my short story, "Hacker Chess," has been released by Centropic Oracle Nov 20, 2020 as an audio production read by Larissa Thompson. Listen here:

Thanks to Charly Thompson for choosing it! Thanks to Larissa Thompson for her nuanced reading!

The story originally appeared in the anthology The Playground of Lost Toys, edited by Ursula Pflug and Colleen Anderson in 2015 and was previously reprinted in Exile Literary Quarterly 39(3) 2016.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Fatal Flaw Magazine

Pleased that my drabble (which is a story exactly 100-words long) "Perfect Storm" was published today by Fatal Flaw magazine in their special "unreliable narrator" issue. It's available to read free here:

Monday, November 16, 2020

Elevator Adventures

I related this story in a comment on Facebook, and thought I should probably post it somewhere more permanent. I'm going to try to post more anecdotes as they pop into my head, partly to fill space here, partly so I get stuff down when I remember it.

Once, when we were in our twenties, I was on a crowded elevator on my way to an ESFCAS meeting on the top floor of the Students Union Building at the UofA, when Ardian ran up. Seeing me already in the elevator he pushed his way in to stand next to me in the back. Because I thought saying random spy stuff in public places was funny, I turned to him and said in a stage whisper, "Did you bring the explosives?" .

Ardian stares at me strangely and says, "Yes. Yes I did" and opens his coat to reveal twenty sticks of dynamite strapped to his chest.

And we stood staring at each other as everyone else started jabbing buttons for the floor the elevator was passing, and got the hell out of there, even though it was after hours and those offices were all closed.

"Adrian," I asked when we were alone, "Why are you wearing a dynamite vest?"

To which he reasonably replied, "Because Ive just come from a audition for the play House of Blue Leaves and I was trying out for the part of the guy with the dynamite vest. Why did you ask me if I had brought explosives?"

"I don't know," I shrugged, and we went to our meeting.

* * *

I've told that story more than once over the years, because it's a pretty good story, but my daughters often looked like they didn't believe me. Then they had the opportunity to meet Adrian on one of our trips, and the youngest one looked at him and said, "elevator story?" and Adrian said, "Oh, you mean the dynamite". So that was another good moment, because if they had to believe that one, then all the other slightly less outlandish stories were also now on the 'could be true' list.

* * *

A few years later I got into another crowded elevator, this time at work with Dr. David and he asked me something like, "Why in the world did you volunteer to be on that committee?"

And I said, "Because if I get on that committee, it's possible I'd qualify for [more senior] committee and if I did well there, I could maybe work my way all the way up to the [most senior] comittee."

"But why would you want to be on that [senior] committee?"

"Because then I could rise to be Chair of [Department]?"

"Okay, but why would you want to?"

"Because once there, there'd be no stopping me. Tomorrow, the World!"

"Yes, but why would you want to rule the world? It would entail a lot of headaches."

"Yeah, but...if I ruled the world... maybe then I could finally get a date."

At which point, the rest of the elevator, colleagues from other departments who had been trying hard to pretend they weren't listening to us, exploded into laughter. And the doors opened on the ground floor, and everybody went their seperate ways. I was pleased I had been able to lighten the mood, if only momentarily, for an elevator full of stressed management types. A few perhaps, might even have given thought to their own motivations for struggling up their respective career ladders.

* * *

And then there were the elevators at the Faculty of Education at the UofA where I was doing my PhD. Whenever I got in it, I would say hello to the elevator, and wish it a good day when I left. Which was, admittedly odd behaviour, but I was living alone at that point, and didn't really have classes, so was pretty much on my own a lot of the time, so talking to the TV and the computer and now the elevator had become a bit of habit. (Fans of my short stories will recognize where Alan and Fami get their perchance for talking to their toasters, fridges, watches, etc.) Anyway, inevitably, I got caught doing this a couple of times by colleagues who, not unreasonably, inquired after my well being and, I believe, mentioned it to the Chair of the Department.

I'm told you talk to the elevators," he said once when we both arrived at the elevator doors at the same time. He used a jocular tone as if to say, "I haven't called yet security, but let's see where this conversation takes us."

"True," I confessed, "but I would like to point out I am the only person in the department who has yet to be stuck in the elevators."

"What, never?" Because, getting stuck in the elevators had become sort of a regular thing that year. At least, it happened a couple of times, and people arriving late for meetings or night classes and would frequently announce, "Sorry I'm late, but I got caught in the elevator again just now."

"Not once."

He gave me a calculating look, and did not raise the issue with me again. But then, several fellow grad students, rather sheepishly, approached me with something like, "I hear talking to the elevators means you don't get stuck in them, eh?"

"Talking politely to them," I would always clarify. Because often, getting stuck in the elevator had caused them to express some very negative feelings about the elevator for some weeks following any little incidents, like "I hope this stupid f-ing elevator doesn't get f-ing stuck again. I don't have time for that s**t today."

I never once got stuck in either of those elevators for all the years I took them (over 20 by my calculations) and I noticed that people had stopped swearing at them and that the elevators stopped getting stuck, though who is to say in which direction the causation runs there?


Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Another New Story Out

My story, "Detour on the Eightfold Path" appears in Issue 31 of Neo-Opsis magazine, released today. It's my first story in Neo-Opsis, though I've had reviews and commentary in the magazine over the years. The story is one of four (so far) featuring Fami and his friends. "Al/ice" is forthcoming in Shores of Infinity and "Fami's Dissertation Defense" has already appeared in Ripples in Space (