The Grayland

spectral

© Sue Vincent

At first Alise Egan thought she had been trapped in a cursed painting of herself facing an ocean wave, but then she realized it was an interdimensional gateway to another reality. In the painting, the twenty-two year old MIT graduate looked much as she appeared in real life, tall, what her billionaire benefactor, the painting’s owner Keyne Harlan and men of his generation would call “curvy,” long, blond hair streaming behind her along with her extravagant crimson gown, a ostentatious gift from said-benefactor, the man who adopted her after her parents died.

But once across the chaotic field of alabaster and sapphire, she entered the realm of the dead. Well, that’s what they had wanted her to believe, all of the non-corporeal entities who inhabited that realm. Two of them had initially passed themselves off as her dead parents, but then she saw them for what they truly were, invaders intent on using her as a bridge from their world to hers for reasons unknown and undesired.

But one of them said, “Physical laws don’t apply here. There’s no difference between science and magic.” That’s when she realized she could do anything, and so she did. Alise pushed back, at first driving a few away from the threshold, then hundreds, then thousands, and finally all that there were, millions and tens of millions.

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Sad Puppies vs. the Hugo Awards OR Being in the Crossfire in the Fight for Significance

quote

It’s easy to be intimidated by mean people. See through their mask. Underneath is an insecure and unhappy person. They are alienated from others because they are alienated from themselves.

Have compassion for them. Not pity, not condemning, not fear, but compassion. Feel for their suffering. Identify with their core humanity. You might be able to influence them for the good. You might not. Either way your compassion frees you from their destructiveness. And if you would like to help them change, compassion gives you a chance to succeed.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book Happiness,p.179

I’ve already talked about Toxic Fear, the extreme Us vs. Them mentality in our nation that begun in during the Obama administration, and that has been greatly exacerbated during the Trump administration, all in relation to the WorldCon implosion and redemption, particularly given THIS and THAT point of view.

However, it was the quote from Rabbi Pliskin this morning that gave me a different perspective on Sad Puppies vs. the Hugo Awards thing.

Part of the inspiration for crafting this essay comes from fellow blogger Joy Pixley’s report of her attending WorldCon 76. She had a pretty good time, and in my discussions with her, she didn’t see any (or at least not much) evidence of bias at WorldCon. However, she did notice a number of Christians and religious Jews in attendance, and no one mobbed, beat, harassed, or otherwise attacked them for their faiths.

Now speaking of bias, it seems female authors swept the Hugo Awards for the second year in a row. Interesting, and statistically a little unlikely, but as I said before, the Hugo Awards are absolutely not designed to be fair and objective.

Continue reading

Time’s Up

forest and stones

© Sue Vincent

Remington had lost count of the number of times he had wandered among these stones. It had been so long that he’d forgotten which one was his. When was it? He could hardly recall. Yes, he did remember the Great Heathen Army. His grandfather had been felled by them at the Isle of Portland while serving under King Beorhtric. Remington himself was dispatched by one of their leaders called Ivar the Boneless, a thousand northern savages by his side. Was it at Wessex then?

It didn’t matter. Here he was as if he had always been here. That other life was so brief by comparison, it almost didn’t matter.

“Remington.”

“Who’s there?” He hadn’t spoken in so long, his own voice sounded strange, almost as eerie as the woman who called to him.

“It is time, Remington.”

Continue reading

Playing Games

games

Found at Mindslovemisery’s Menagerie – No image credit given

25 year old Brian Russell saw the pile of junk mail sitting on his chair which was situated near his gaming console. “I thought I told you to throw away the snail mail crap.”

His roommate and fellow graduate student Ricky Briggs shook his head, wagging his long pony tail as he continued to focus on playing Warthunder. “One of them wasn’t junk. Check out the first class stamp.”

“Only you would know about postage stamps, you throwback.” The tall man ran his fingers through his mop of “dishwater” brown hair. He actually admired Ricky’s talent for “old school,” but didn’t always appreciate it. Picking up the envelope, he still knew enough to realize that no return address was unusual. Brian ripped open the gaily yellow envelope and found a single card inside with the words, “You’re Invited Grartor Party Saturday Next” printed on it.

“Who wrote this, an ESL dropout?”

“Shut up.”

Continue reading

The Magical Backyard

dragonfly

In form and name, the blue dasher dragonfly illustrates the beauty and flying prowess of these insects. (Photo: Bonnie Taylor Barry/Shutterstock)

“What’s that, Grandpa?” The little three-year-old girl was out in the old man’s backyard exploring as usual, while her grandfather watched from a chair on the patio.

“It’s a dragonfly, Dani.”

“Dragonfly?” She looked in wonder as the insect alighted onto one of the potted tomato plants at the edge of the concrete.

“Yes, it’s a flying bug.”

“A bug?” She looked down and cried out excitedly. “Here are some more bugs.” She squatted and pointed her finger.

“Yes, those are ants.”

“Ants?” She acted like she’d never heard the word before.

“Look on the fence.”

Continue reading

Growing Back

overgrown city

Found at playstationlifestyle.net – no image credit available

“I’ll be out front taking care of the weeds, Diane.” Rudy Harper was yelling as he held the door open between the laundry room and the garage.

“Okay.” He could hear her well enough, though she was in the kitchen.

He shut the door. The garage was already open to the driveway so he had plenty of light to see. He wasn’t in a good mood, and was muttering to himself as he opened one of the utility cabinets. “Freaking summer. Everybody loves freaking summer. Gonna be another scorcher today, freaking hundred degrees at least. There. Gotcha.” He pulled the bottle of weed killer and a pair of gloves out and closed the cabinet.

Putting on the gloves, he wielded his weapon, preparing to vanquish one of his sworn enemies. “Freaking weeds, always growing up through the cracks in the concrete. Got the lawn mowed and edged early enough, but I’ll end up sweating like a pig over the damn weeds.”

Continue reading

The Karma of Rachel Silverstein

jewish quarter

Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem – Found at Israel Tours.

Rachel Silverstein found the Torah stifling. She’d been born and raised in Crown Heights, the home of the followers of the Rebbe in Brooklyn, and when she was twenty, she took a sabbatical to study in Israel.

“But Rabbi, our traditions and practices are so primitive. I don’t understand why a woman can’t be a Rabbi, or daven wearing tefillin and a tallit. Didn’t Hashem create us all, men and woman in His image?

Rachel and Rabbi Bergman were walking together in the Jewish quarter of the Old City on a pleasant spring afternoon on a Thursday discussing her struggles with being an observant Jew.

“I fear you left home to pursue a secular education too soon.”

“There’s nothing wrong with wanted to broaden your horizons. Most of the Haradi here study Talmud to the exclusion of even basic mathematics.”

Continue reading

Last Stand

wave

© Sue Vincent

“Archers! At the ready!” Petran gave the command to his meager squad of elven soldiers as they formed a perimeter around the five Davidson children and the magician Raibyr. Nine-year-old Taylor was at the center with his siblings when he remembered he also had his bow and arrows.

The wind was frigid and fierce, which fortunately made the attacking Beelzebub horde uncertain in the air, but would also make accuracy with the bow extremely difficult.

The sense of the warrior Azzorh within Taylor came over him, and he nocked his first arrow.

The bat-winged demons were in as tight a formation as possible given the storm that was tracking toward the party from the west; a massive cloud of swollen, sickly green flies whose home was sewage, and whose taste was for blood.

Continue reading

Happily Ever After?

extortion

Photo: Natalie Orenstein, Berkeleyside

“Do you believe in happily ever after?” Kristy popped another one of her strange questions as she and her fiancée Mike were standing in line for the sando of the day, which today was Green Garlic Roasted Beef.

“No. Nothing is forever including happiness.”

“We’re going to get married in a month. Doesn’t that make you happy?”

“Of course it does, otherwise we wouldn’t be getting married.”

“Next.” Aaron, one of the butcher shop’s owners, was at the counter today and Mike felt embarrassed that his conversation with Kristy had kept him waiting.

“Two sandos of the day, Aaron.”

“Coming right up,” he said signaling a new hire who was helping him out over the lunch rush. “By the way, I agree with Mike. Happiness isn’t forever.”

Continue reading

When Jimmy Was Five

flamingo

Spanish Flamingo Dancer circa 1950 – Photo credit unknown

When Jimmy was five, he got in the car with Mom and Dad and they went for a ride. Jimmy was worried when they drove through the little town with all the broken buildings. Little boys and girls like him had no pants on and were going wee-wee in the ditch. Why didn’t their Moms and Dads give them clothes?

When Jimmy was five, Mom and Dad took him to Sevilla. They walked and walked and walked through museums and up and down streets until his feet were really sore.

When Jimmy was five, Dad dressed him up in a costume with a short blue cape with glitter on it and a black bolero hat. They went to something called a Fiesta which was a big, big party all over the city. Dad wanted to take Jimmy’s picture with two older Spanish girls, but he was too shy.

When Jimmy was five, Dad took him outside one night and showed him the stars in the sky. Then he pointed to something bright in the sky and said it was Sputnik. Sputnik was something people had put in the sky by launching it on a rocket. Dad said someday, rockets would take people into space, too.

Continue reading