Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An Interesting Rejection

I got the following rejection from Mike Allen at Clockwork Phoenix magazine:

"Dear Bryan, thank you for sending this. Your story was reserved for me to read by one of my assistant editors, but though it's well written I'm afraid the story didn't hold me. Sorry about that! I do wish you luck placing this one elsewhere."

This got me wondering what failed to hold his interest. The story is fairly linear for being a time travel story.  A young married couple visited an old woman selling a condo. But the old woman appeared to be the younger woman only much older. An odd device causes the two women to fall as if the floor vanished. They land on dirt in 1946.  The old woman is killed and the young woman has broken a leg. The bulk of the story's middle is how the woman came to grips with the past and decided not to follow the steps of her prior self.

I would be interested in hearing from you it you have ideas how I might tighten and fix this story. I would be willing to email you a PDF of the story if you can convince me that you are a good critic. Please contact me if you have interest in helping.

Meanwhile I will reread it with an eye for how it slows.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Second Guessing A Penny

Take a moment to wander around your home. Look at all the clocks you have. You may already have looked in response to the recent change from Daylight Saving Time (called Summer Time in Europe). Notice first that clocks are everywhere --on the microwave, on the oven, on the telephone, on your cellphone, even on some refrigerators and toasters.  Notice also that all the modern digital clocks lack seconds.

While wandering did you also notice a penny jar on your dresser? Or at least a change jar somewhere in the house?

Almost all small stores in the States have adopted a penny tray by the register (Europe lags behind in this regard). You place into the tray any pennies you received in change. The next customer may need a penny or two to round out a purchase, and can take them from the tray.  (In some neighborhoods, I have noticed nickels and dimes in the penny tray too, but that is off topic.)

Pennies are becoming more and more worthless. A gum ball from a machine now costs a quarter ($US 0.25). Things that used to cost a penny each, no longer exist.

Pennies are beginning to seem like trash. Who wants to carry around pennies in a purse or pocket? Better to saddle the next person with your worthless trash.

Seconds are beginning to follow the example of the penny. When was the last time a second mattered to you?  Sure seconds matter in races and competitions, but that is why we have stop watches. Sure seconds matter when counting down to a launch, but how often do you launch rockets?

Have you noticed that children "dial" phones, but have never seen a phone with a dial? Have you noticed that children call CDs "records"?

Slowly and stealthily, digital clocks are eliminating seconds from our daily consciousness. What's going to happen when children never experience time passing in seconds. What's going to happen when the only clocks they ever see show only hours and minutes?  How long is a minute, you might ask.  Well, its... one, of course.

"How many pennies can you count in sixty seconds?" you ask your daughter.

"What's a penny?" she frowns. "What's a second?"


This essay was originally published on

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Puppet, a Dog, and a Historian

A trio of Pumpkins

My upcoming Science Fiction novel, "Puppet," is (on one layer) about the travels and adventures of an unusual trio: A patchwork man named Puppet; a large, talking, intelligent dog named Gypsy; and a tall, historian named Horace.

Puppet is a man killed in an airplane crash in the mid 1980's and who was resurrected 300 years later. He awoke to find himself composed of pieces of other bodies connected together into one. Much like Frankenstein's monster, but instead of a foot sewn to an ankle, his pieces were smoothly connected without thread, with skin just smooth surface from one body part to the next. Because his look was benign rather than monstrous, I refer to him as a patchwork man. But, he was a patchwork man with a purpose, where each part had a special significance or a use.

He was resurrected and awoke to find himself seated next to a large dog named Gypsy. Actually a normal looking short haired Vizsla, but with pointed ears. She was the size of a Great Dane, her back coming up to his waist.  This dog was intelligent and could speak.  Because she was a dog, she could function despite rules rules created by and applied to humans.  She alone could talk to ghosts and lower creatures, like the giant snufflers.

Horace was a tall man who liked to wear a long duster. He had a tattoo on his forehead that was reminiscent of the Cheshire Cat's smile. He began the story as a ghost. A man who was imperceptible to other humans. All historians became ghosts when one of them discovered something none of them should have discovered. As a ghost, the soul in his head could no longer contact other humans.

Fortunately Gypsy could see him because she was a dog. And Puppet could see him because he lacked a Soul in his brain and so was exempt from rules governing other humans.

This trio appeared in Chapter 1 and remained together through the last chapter and powerful ending.  Other characters appear at the start and come back a few times like the immortal woman named Windy3. Others come in later, like the large snake George and his five female snake companions who remained with him until the end.