Mirrors

Hexagon

Patreon subscribers to Hexagon Speculative Fiction Magazine now have early access to its premiere issue. It features my flash fiction story “Mirrors.”

While conducting a solo study of the fauna on Specula C3, Dr. Annette Thatcher witnesses the crash-landing of an alien spacecraft. She rescues Gregarin, the lone survivor of a ship from Etzi, a previously unknown planet. During the weeks Thatcher and Gregarin wait for an Earth rescue shuttle, they learn about each other’s language and culture — and surprising truths about themselves.

The idea for this story came to me while re-reading Dr. Lewis Thomas’ marvelous book, The Lives of a Cell, a beautifully written treasure chest of insights into the interconnectedness of all life. Thomas’ thoughts on collective societies that behave like single organisms got me to imagining how human society would appear to an alien species.

Hexagon Speculative Fiction is a new Canadian publication featuring poetry, fiction, and mixed media from all over the world. Its goal is to blend the fantastic, the absurd, the horrifying, and the humorous.

The debut issue also includes the work of Evan Marcroft, Nicholas C. Smith, Michael M. Jones, and John Grey.

Starship Troopers: Loser? Winner!

Starship Troopers
Image From WonderCon 2011

Writing in Giant Freakin Robot, Drew Dietsch recounts that the now-classic movie Starship Troopers was originally a dud at the box office, as well as a critical failure. Crowds looking for big-name stars didn’t find any in the film adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s novel, and critics thumped it as poorly acted, empty entertainment. Roger Ebert, for example, judged it to be “the most violent kiddie movie ever made.”

What changed our view of this now-beloved classic? The cult movie’s secret, says Dietsch, is that both audiences and critics slowly realized the movie committed that most grievous of sins in cinema: overachieving. Over the years, fans recognized Starship Troopers as an over-the-top satire of militarism.

For example, when Earth declares war on Klendathu, a planet populated by giant bug-like creatures, humans prove their patriotism by stomping on real bugs. I laughed out loud at that scene. (A number of English kicked dachshunds in the streets of London at the outbreak of World War I, and the US Congressional cafeteria changed the name of French Fries to Freedom Fries after France declined to join the US in attacking Iraq.)

Dietsch insightfully points out how the film’s characterizations are actually right on target:

When it comes to the widely criticized acting, that viewpoint seems to miss the forest for the trees. These characters are written to be iterations of the kinds of heroes you’d see in classic propaganda stories. Their supposed vapidity is essential to the larger satire at work, but the characters and actors themselves can’t play the roles that way or the picture would come off as disingenuous. By committing to these cardboard vessels for ridiculous propaganda, the cast is totally succeeding at being the exact characters this movie needs.

The result is a powerful statement against mindless jingoism. One of the most gripping scenes comes toward the end. Colonel Carl Jenkins, a psychic from the Terran Federation’s Ministry of Paranormal Warfare, approaches a dying enemy bug and reads the creature’s thoughts:

CARMEN
Look… they got it.

GENERAL
What’s it thinking, Colonel?

CARL
It’s afraid.

The troops cheer at the news the enemy is not just physically broken, but psychically as well. That cheer sent a cold ripple down my back. What a vivid display of the ugliness of triumphalism.

COVID-19 and Paris

Hemingway and Bumby
Hemingway and Bumby

Elmore Leonard, who admired Ernest Hemingway, and looked to him as a role model, once lamented that the famous author “didn’t have a sense of humor.”

I disagree.

I’ve been busy during our global time-out. I’ve been reading new fiction, as well as re-reading old favorites, including Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, a series of vignettes of Hemingway’s early days as an author while starting a family in 1920s Paris.

This little book cannot be drained; every time I read it, I discover more treasures. And if the honorable Mr. Leonard were alive, I could tell him Hemingway displays a wicked sense of humor in A Moveable Feast.

Let’s look at a few examples.

The metaphor that links the book’s poignant scenes together is the sumptuous food and drink of Paris. Here’s how Hemingway launches our little tour:

As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.

That should whet any appetite. It certainly works for me.

Hemingway depicts Paris as a sprawling, lusty muse for all artists. In those days, he knew no greater joy than parking himself at a little café and setting a freshly sharpened pencil to his notebook. Pure writerly bliss. But every paradise has its snake, and for Hemingway, it’s the aggressive follower:

“Hi Hem. What are you trying to do? Write in a café?”

Your luck had run out and you shut the notebook.

Other artists, and especially writers, cannot evade Hemingway’s sharp, scrutinizing eye:

Wyndham Lewis wore a wide black hat, like a character in the quarter, and was dressed like someone out of La Boheme. He had a face that reminded me of a frog, not a bullfrog but just any frog, and Paris was too big a puddle for him.

F. Scott Fitzgerald and his melancholic wife Zelda get much scrutiny. Scott and Zelda had what you could call a rough and tumble, bittersweet relationship. When Zelda informs Scott she considers his, um, manhood inadequate, Scott looks to Hemingway for reassurance, which he kindly offers:

“You’re perfectly fine,” I said. “You are O.K. There’s nothing wrong with you. You look at yourself from above and you look foreshortened. Go over to the Louvre and look at the people in the statues and then go home and look at yourself in the mirror in profile.”

“Those statues may not be accurate.”

“They are pretty good. Most people would settle for them.”

Ah, the healing power of art.

Quote of the day

JRR Tolkien

“The realm of fairy-story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things: all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords. In that realm a man may, perhaps, count himself fortunate to have wandered, but its very richness and strangeness tie the tongue of a traveler who would report them.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy Stories

Blurred Lines

Blurred Lines 
The Suspenseful Collection 2 
by Kim Knight and Didi Oviatt 
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Crime Fiction 

For Mature Readers Only: 

As the second installment of suspenseful short stories by two suspense authors, from diverse backgrounds, Blurred Lines offers a thrill ride with nine stories in genres across the board. From opposite sides of the Atlantic these stories have been created. One author started the tale and the other ended it. No discussion, no pre-planning, but yet their stories are seamless. With the use of writing prompts Kim and Didi have created tales that will tug at your heart strings, drop your jaws, and leave you clinging to the edge of your seat. The continuation of this suspenseful anthology is just as fast paced and engaging as the first set of tales that covers multiple genres. From gory horror, romance, crime fiction, family drama, and fantasy, there is a story for everyone! 

Crime Fiction, Psychological: “I’m Back Bitches, Now Panic!” 

Lynn McCarmick has spent six years behind bars for a crime she didn’t commit, although she’s a far cry from an innocent woman. Her once loyal team of con artists set her up for a robbery that landed her a long term home in a Scottish prison. With the help of conjugal visits from Hamish, who keeps tabs on the group who framed her, she’s able to track them and keep a constant eye on their whereabouts. After an early release for good behavior, Lynn is finally able to let the bad bitch inside of her roam free. She goes after the team with the intentions on a much anticipated revenge for her incarceration. 

Contemporary Romance: Heart of Gold 

In this star crossed, light hearted tale, two people with the purest of hearts, each long to find a mate who is giving, honest and real. Sandy has been putting herself out there for what she feels is too long, yet she’s only found shallow disconnected interactions. That is until she witnesses an act of kindness from a complete stranger, one that she’s yet to discover has already intertwined his way into her near future. 

Psychological Thriller, Slasher Romance, Erotica: Chainsaw Ridge 

Alice is one of a kind, and was raised by a nasty man with killer habits. Growing up, Alice was forced to care for her daddy’s pigs, on a farm that he used the animals for the most disgusting things, including the devouring of his victims’ bodies. After an accident rendered the awful man disabled, and Alice had to dispose of his latest victim for him, everything changed. Eventually Alice rid herself of her Daddy and found a man to spend her life with. However, Alice’s tale doesn’t end there! Due to popular demand this story was extended! Alice fell into a depression after learning that her husband was having an affair. She decided to raise pigs of her own, following suit of her father and with the ultimate twist, this gory tale takes Alice and her husband on one hell of a bloody adventure. 

Investigative Crime Fiction: Crime Scene Investigation 

Detectives Flynn and McBride are on the case of a murder. Owner of the Chinese restaurant where the body was found, Mr. Wang, is devastated. He’s concerned that this murder could have detrimental effects on his busiess. The pressure is on to find the killer and to clear Mr. Wang’s establishment as a safe place for his patrons. But, not everything is as it seems, and as the killing’s details unravel, the detective piece together outside connections that are weaved into the Wang ties in a very delicate way. Is this merely a case of someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or is there more to the murder than meets the eye? 

Historical Fiction: A Miracle Baby Story 

In a tragic tale of tough love and loss, brought about in a western setting, two young lovers are frowned upon by nearly everyone around. Adsila is a teen of Cherokee descent, who falls for a young cowboy. The conception of their child is hidden, yet Adsila’s mother isn’t blind to the fact that her own baby is with child. She aids the young lovers, trying to save the life of their unborn child in a community filled with hate and judgement toward their union. 

Paranormal Suspense: A life Gone? 

Franklyn Poppy, is a husband and father who’s found himself in a place between life and death, becomes the loathly witness to the woman he loves having an affair with his twin brother. He’s introduced to the infamous dark Goddess, Maman Bridgette who shares his disdain for the happenings of his wife. The outcome of Mrs. Poppy and her fateful intertwining with this powerful Goddess is powerful and resonating. 

Metaphysics, Clarvoiant, Thriller: Murder by Mistake 

The Wilkinson family consists of an Air Force father, a loving mother, and two daughters Anna and Julie. They are polar opposites, and Julie, the younger of the two has a special gift. Along with her constant paranoia of practically everything on this earth, she’s able to see things before they happen, as well as the happenings of people around her. When she’s mentally the witness to a murder that’s yet to be solved, she’s forced into action in an altercation with the killer. 

Fantasy: Witchful Thinking 

Gretchen isn’t your average witch, as she was born into a clan descending from the blood of Fate herself. Growing up in foster care was an intentional way for her to find her own path in using her magic as she’s intended to be a tool for Fate’s use. Once grown, she’s introduced to the intensity of her gifts, and is thrown into a personal journey involving much higher powers than merely Fate. Gretchen and her mother have a certain potential that dive deeper than either of them ever dreamed. 

Family Drama: Real Mom 

After the abandonment of their mother, twins Josephine and Jerilynn are taken in by their new stepmom, and become the big sisters to quite the large and quirky family. During a family vacation the two team up, and try to uncover the mystery of their estranged biological mom. 

A NOTE FROM THE AUTHORS: 

We will be offering the first set of stories in the Suspenseful Collection for FREE for 5 days only. Our gift to you, as an invitation to celebrate with us in releasing Blurred Lines. Download your free Kindle Copy of The Suspenseful Collection on Amazon HERE: http://bit.ly/30Le9WE

About Didi Oviatt 

Didi Oviatt is an intuitive soul. She’s a wife and mother first, with one son and one daughter. Her thirst to write was developed at an early age, and she never looked back. After digging down deep and getting in touch with her literary self, she’s writing mystery/thrillers like Search For Maylee, Justice for Belle, Aggravated Momentum, Sketch, and more, along with multiple short story collections. She’s collaborated with Kim Knight in an ongoing interactive short story anthology, The Suspenseful Collection. When Didi doesn’t have her nose buried in a book, she can be found enjoying a laid-back outdoorsy lifestyle. Time spent sleeping under the stars, hiking, fishing, and ATVing the back roads of beautiful mountain trails, and sun-bathing in the desert heat play an important part of her day to day lifestyle. 

About Kim Knight 

Kim Knight was born in 1983 and from London in the UK. She’s a mother to a beautiful little boy, and a proud award winning author (awarded Best Romance 2017 title for A Stranger In France). Kim started her journey as a traditionally published author and later dived into self-publishing also. 
As a reader she’s head over heels in love with romance, historical fiction, crime fiction, African- American, suspense and thriller genre books. As a writer, Kim enjoys creating stories with a diverse and multi-cultural line up, within the romance, romantic suspense and general thriller and crime genres. When she’s not reading, or writing stories of her own her other passions include practising her French, astrology, fashion, make-up artistry, drawing, spending time at her sewing machine dressmaking, watching make -up and beauty tutorials on YouTube, letter writing and being a mum. 
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!


Quote of the day

“We fail to notice that popular song writers like Stevie Wonder and Randy Newman, to say nothing of the Beatles, can be dedicated, energetic poets more interesting than many of the weary sophisticates, true-confessors, and randy academics we encounter in the ‘little magazines,’ and that drugstore fiction can often have more to offer than fiction thought to be of a higher class.”

John Gardner, The Art of Fiction

Make it new


“That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes

We’ve all been there. We want to create something groundbreaking, something new and fresh. And we imagine that to do so we must start from scratch and create something never seen before. Forget genre! Forget tropes! Let’s make something truly original.

Problem is, it’s impossible to create something no one has ever seen before. Everyone gets their ideas from someone else. Stephen King learned from H.P. Lovecraft, who imitated Edgar Alan Poe, who got one of his best ideas (“The Raven”) from Charles Dickens. And so on. The work of every writer has a lineage, born out of a tradition. Step one in mastering the craft of writing, then, is to learn that tradition and make it your own.

What we call tradition is a set of conventions handed down — and embraced — because they work. As evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller put it, “A ‘tradition’ is just an innovation that’s been peer-reviewed. One that replicates, generation after generation.”

The reason these conventions work for us is because they are based on who we are. Carl Jung observed recurring personality types that he referred to as archetypal figures, which include: mother, father, child, devil, god, wise old man, wise old woman, the trickster, and the hero. Jung rejected the blank slate theory of human psychological development, knowing that evolutionary pressures formed our bodies and personalities.

As beings with a long-established nature, we find ourselves confronting situations that are also long-established and recurring. Jung described these archetypal events as birth, death, separation from parents, initiation, marriage, and the union of opposites.

Underlying the superficial changes we experience is a timeless reality that repeatedly manifests itself in a set number of ways. That’s why there are only so many possible plots.

Joseph Campbell, who wrote “The Hero With A Thousand Faces,” used the term “monomyth” to describe the hero’s journey, a plot that appears all over the world. All cultures, he wrote, create their own traditions, including their own stories to express their experience with the unchanging reality behind human existence.

And that’s what we want to do. Tradition is not an obstacle to creativity, but a springboard. When we interpret our experience in the light of tradition, we reveal to our readers, and ourselves, the mystic union of the past and present. In the words of T. S. Eliot, we must uncover the “point of intersection of the timeless with time.” That endeavor, says Eliot, is “the occupation of the saint.”

The challenge, as Ezra Pound put it, is to “Make it new.” Somehow, we must honestly recognize, and then relate, our insights, our pain, our love, our hate, to the timeless truth of the human condition. That’s the vital component that keeps the tradition alive — us.

“Tuggle ably captures the spirit of Dan Brown novels and Indiana Jones–style adventure stories.” Kirkus Reviews

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