Publication in Polar Borealis

My creepy short story ‘The Santas’ is going to be published in Polar Borealis! And just in time for Christmas, too!

aurora_borealis_northern_lights

I was very happy to find a good publisher for this story, and also to find that it’ll be published in time for the season.

Without too many spoilers, the premise of the story is that “Santa Claus” is just one of many “Santas”, magical beings who are summoned by using different rituals. Cookies and milk and stockings by the fireplace summon Santa Claus. But in ‘The Santas’, we meet some of the lesser known -and far creepier- Santas.

That story is coming in issue #5 of Polar Borealis, which will be free to download!

Open Call – Strange Economics SFF anthology

The Strange Economics anthology will feature SFF stories on the theme of “economics”, broadly interpreted. It’s paying a semi-pro rate of CAD1.5c/w. Simsubs are allowed. Submissions are open until January 30, 2018, so there is still some time to come up with a story, write it, polish it, and submit it.

Some ideas/prompts/suggestions for stories:

  • Job market implications of genetic engineering and “designer babies” on society: Do parents seal the employment fate of their children? Why would anyone engineer their children for the jobs no one wants?
  • What kind of work will people do when human labor is no longer necessary? Does work still exist? How are resources distributed? How do people spend their time? Explore these question in a SF world, where robots and AI have eliminated the need for work, or a fantasy world, where magic or gods have eliminated the need for work.
  • Supply and demand in a world of magic: a critical spell/ritual ingredient is in short supply.
  • Some people think capitalism is the final stage of human history, and no other systems are going to arise. If that’s right, what will the capitalism of the future look like? If that’s wrong, what other system might take its place? Tell a story about either of these futures.
  • A market for human souls: a “collector” who makes their living selling souls to demons, but questions where to draw the line (and by extension, the variable value of human life).
  • How will interplanetary trade work? What might go wrong?
  • A story that illustrates the prisoner’s dilemma in an SFF context.
  • A story that illustrates the sunk cost fallacy in an SFF context.
  • A story that illustrates negative externalities in an SFF context.
  • An SFF story that illustrates irrational economic behavior, or how biases/beliefs/ psychological predispositions sometimes make us act in ways that don’t seem to make economic sense.
  • There is an asteroid worth $10,000,000,000,000,000,000. What would happen if someone managed to collect it? Write a story about the company that makes this happen, and what happens as a result.
  • Global warming will create new economic challenges over the next hundred years. Write about one or more of those problems, and how people deal with them.
  • Space Tourism. Write about the business in the near-future.
  • Mars or moon colonies. Some run by China, one run by NASA, some run by multinational corporations. Tell a story about the differences in how they’re run, and the potential conflicts that arise, for example, when resources are scarce.
  • Pollution is an example of a market failure. Tell a story about how a future society tries to deal with this market failure. Come up with a policy solution, and tell a SF story about why it works, or doesn’t. Or, create a fantasy analogy for pollution, such as a side effect from using magic. Maybe using spells releases demons into the wild. Should the peasants be expected to deal with the demons? Or maybe the peasants get fed up with the wizards not dealing with the problem.
  • Space pirates.
  • Corporate neo-feudalism.
  • What if the gap between rich and poor continues growing? Is there a breaking point? What does that look like?

Happy writing!

Submission guidelines for Strange Economics can be found here.

Strange Economics anthology

strange_economics_ebook_cover3

I’m very happy to say that the Strange Economics anthology is over 80% funded!

Strange Economics is an anthology of speculative fiction on the theme of “economics”. If that sounds like your thing, or if you just want to support the project, please take a minute to check out the fund-raising reward tiers and see if any of them appeal to you. All of the money we raise goes to the authors involved.

If you’re a speculative fiction author, there is an open call for submissions. We pay 1.5c/word CDN for accepted stories. If you have a story that you think might fit, we’d love to see it.

Bitter Knowledge, by Yannis Ritsos

“Bitter Knowledge” is a poem by the Greek poet Yannis Ritsos (1909-1990). It can be found in the collection “Late into the Night: the Last Poems of Yannis Ritsos”.

Consider reading my analysis of Ritsos’ poem “Maybe, Someday” before this one. These two poems can be read together, and it makes more sense for the other one to come first.

As with any analysis of a poem, we should begin by reading it in its entirety first, and appreciating it as a whole.

Bitter Knowledge
by Yannis Ritsos (translation karlóvasi, 6-30-87)

Stay in this sheltering half-light with folded hands.
There’s nowhere for the lame night-watchman to sit.
The chairs were sold off two weeks ago. Out front,
they’re hosing out some large barrels. Barges
lie beached in the harbor. The newscaster’s voice
carries from across the street. I don’t want to hear.
I sweep the charred moth wings off the table
from the night before, knowing only
that all their weight is in their weightlessness.

Tone

The tone is depressed, wistful and resigned. A number of images point to giving up or feeling powerless: the “folded hands”, the “lame” watchman with nowhere to sit, the charred wings. The images also create a deep feeling of emptiness or lacking purpose: The barrels, being hosed out, empty; The watchman, nowhere to sit; The barges beached on the harbor, inert; The moth wings, discarded, burned, brushed from the table. The images in this constellation all show loss: a loss of purpose or function.

The overall impression created is one of sadness, emptiness, and loss.

Watson’s tone analyzer confirms this reading, identifying sadness and fear as the prevailing moods.

Interpretation

Ritsos is talking about his life as a poet. He is the “lame night-watchman”, powerless as death (“night”) approaches. The “bitter knowledge” of the title concerns his life’s work.

Late into the night of his life, he is reconsidering his contributions, weighing the value of his life’s work. The charred moth wings “from the night before” are the totality of his life’s work: insubstantial, charred, fragile, crumbling at the slightest touch. Their value: nothing, except proving their “weightlessness”.

Ritsos devoted his entire life to poetry. He hoped that he might share the beauty of the world as he saw it, through his poetry. This was his driving passion: to end the loneliness of living in his private world; to bridge the divide between separate beings; to commune with others through his craft. At the end of his life, he came to dismiss his life’s work -sweeping it from the table- as a total failure.