Tag Archives: speculative fiction

Excerpt from Intermediate Time Travel, the sequel to The Unintentional Time Traveler

street scene from Philadelphia, maybe Center City, shortly after 1900, with what looks like a farm market, horses, customers, and horse drawn wagons all aroundWe were on day four of traveling south to Mobile, Eleanor’s hometown, and we weren’t making much progress with the horses. I knew Pie by herself would be faster than this, but Holiday was a bit older and we had a wagon full of our provisions to boot. And it seemed like every new mile was hotter and stickier. I was driving this portion, not a cloud in the sky to get between us and the sun, and the reins were tacky in my hands, leaving some of the tanning dye on my palms.

“This is gross,” I said to Lucas, who kept nodding off. How dare he try to get out of any of this.

“Mm? What’s gross?”

“This,” I said, waving one arm around in a big circle to mean: everything, dude.

“I think it’s pretty,” he said, and he closed his eyes and hunched himself up against the corner of the seat. As a final screw off to my comment, he pushed his black cowboy hat over his face.

I tried to appreciate the surroundings. Even though there was only one state between Eleanor’s state and ours, the landscape was pretty different. Here the trees were covered in thick green moss on one side, many of them tangled up in some kind of vine. The bird calls were different, too—I didn’t hear any morning doves, but I did spot a few woodpeckers. I was pretty sure we wouldn’t have any run-ins with wolves or coyotes, because all of the big predators seemed to have fled a while ago.

Pie suddenly went lame and stopped walking, snorting instead in a way that made me think he was in real pain. I tapped Lucas on his knee and hopped down to look at the horse. Read More…

LGBT Themes and Science Fiction: Fast Friends

This post originally appeared over at GayYA.org.

from the Hubble space telescopeI write speculative fiction, usually somewhere between soft science fiction and magical realism, and often, though not exclusively, with LGBT themes and characters. I suppose I could write more mainstream stories, but I like to twist things up and mess with the universe, and besides, I’m a genre geek. I swear this is less from a God complex perspective, and more about playfulness and political intent. Metaphors for transition, coming out, family acceptance, and the like can replace a description of the real thing, and in so doing, open up some space away from angst so more time can be spent appreciating some of the other aspects of these moments.Personally, I’m over angst, having racked up enough of those moments through two whole puberties! But as a writer for young adult and crossover audiences, I’m invested in finding ways to depict all of that cortisol-inducing stress, especially as it relates to LGBT themes. So I opt to find a different geography, a reinvention of time, nifty gadgets and alien species to push, instead of resolve, tension. Read More…

Why I Miss Octavia Butler

Like a flailing restaurant patron who has a chunk of beef stuck in his windpipe, I write speculative fiction. It’s a messy process, of combing through research so I retain a kernel of accuracy in the story, say of physics or history, of plot points and character sketches, scratched out, erased, and written over in my notebooks. There are many notecards and scraps of paper tucked into my journals, so many that I tend to break the bindings of lesser-made books. Don’t forget this detail, that sub-theme, this one scene that keeps popping up in my daydreams. I go back, rewrite, reconceive, get frustrated, re-execute, finally feel satisfied.

Octavia Butler and her booksIt could very well be that all of my energy is in vain, and none of it is any good. I think it’s healthy for writers to drink a cup of hubris with a side of humility every so often. There is so little that keeps us honest. Writing is supposed to be sellable, and to make it to the commercial market, it needs to be definable—what’s the synopsis, who’s the audience, is it like any other bestseller out there, what’s the genre? It had better not fit in too many boxes, or the marketing department at the publisher will implode like an old Vegas casino.

Octavia Butler was one of those writers who defied pretty much everything in publishing—its tightness on genre categories, certainly, but also its expectations around audience appeal, topics that could be covered in fiction, and what bestselling authors should look and sound like. Read More…

Excerpt from Parallax: Chapter 28

The tracks stretched so far toward the horizon that the individual rails merged into one point, and then they devolved into something indistinct. If men had laid down a railroad here, at some point it became lost to the wilderness. I followed the tracks, using a scrap of paper I’d received a couple of hours earlier. Edgar camped out where the tracks took on a look of modern sculpture, the result of a terrible derailing several years ago. Not that modern art was anything anyone had heard of yet. The old conductor told me I couldn’t miss it.

I’d been tracking him for a week, and I was running out of time. I crunched through a stream of broken glass and pottery. Moonshine bottles, brown beer glass, growler jugs, or so I guessed. Hopefully I was getting close. If the story was right then he hadn’t started to spiral down yet, but this was the last night for his sobriety. Read More…

Excerpt from Parallax: from Chapter 19

For those of you following along, here’s the latest piece I’m sharing of my work in progress.

Closing my eyes made the experience feel more familiar, even if I knew I was sitting back on Jeannine’s friend’s couch and not in a lab. I appreciated Dr. Stanger’s voice, strangely comforting even after everything I’d put him through. Without seizures anymore, we weren’t sure if this would work. I should have been more nervous about the hand-built EEG machine than my own capacity for out of control neuron activity, but I didn’t think the doctor would have subjected me to anything that could hurt me. Even if he’d gone through a terrible ordeal on my account.

“Just relax, Jack,” he said, and it occurred to me that I didn’t know why he cared to do all of this for us. Was he interested in inventing a time machine? Wanted to prove himself correct? Was he actually insane?

I considered ripping the wires off of my head, held to my scalp with some kind of hair product instead of the medical putty I was used to. This was reckless, dangerous. What was I thinking? I should jump up and get out of here, explain to my parents that I’ve been stupid and desperate. They’ll have to get over it at some point. Read More…

Excerpt from Parallax—from Chapter 17

For those of you following along, here’s another excerpt of the first draft. Enjoy!

While Dr. Stanger worked on building a crude EEG machine, I drove out to Conestoga for more information on the town and its residents. Whatever town square I’d seen was gone now, subsumed into a street grid. Only on the outlying areas were there still farm lands, but the vast majority of the area had been developed. I pulled over, seeing a yellowed sign in the window of a storefront: Historical Society. I fumbled for dimes in my pocket and bought an hour’s worth of parking time, and headed inside. An older lady with curly white hair greeted me.

“Suggested donation is one dollar,” she told me, “but you can see if that’s worth paying after you walk through.” I smiled and put a bill in her metal box. It didn’t appear they had visitors often. Read More…

Excerpt from Parallax—from Chapter 16

My latest bit of Parallax, from the first draft. To read the earlier excerpts, click on Parallax in the tag cluster on the left side of the screen.

Sanjay looked much older in scrubs.

“Green’s a good color on you,” I said, sitting in my car.

“Oh shut up.” He clipped his brother’s hospital badge on his shirt and said, “Wish me luck.”

The plan was for Sanjay to say Dr. Stanger needed to go to respiratory therapy, and he was the orderly to remove him. With all the smoking the doctor did, we hoped it wouldn’t look suspicious. According to Jay’s brother Prabal, lots of patients on the mental wellness ward smoked a lot and it was common for them to get checkups from the respiratory therapy staff when they inevitably had problems breathing. Read More…

Last-minute NaNoWriMo to do list

I’m gearing up to write a novel for National Novel Writing Month this year—for 2010 I plan to write a young adult speculative fiction story that will have LGBT themes and some homages to the 1970s, adventure tales, and classic time travel sci fi—so I had to put together my “to do” list before All Saints Day rolled around. For this novel, named PARALLAX, my list looks like this, in no particular order: Read More…

Friday Flash No. 7: Mummy

My heart was on fire, or at least, it felt like it was on fire. I kept one hand over the middle of my chest to double check. A nurse noticed and came over to me.

“Inez, are you in pain again?”

I nodded. I still wasn’t any good at talking. Not on a consistent basis.

The nurse leaned in and squinted at the monitor behind me. “I can only give you one more increase,” she said, twisting something on my IV line. “The pain should start to subside soon.” She patted me gently on my shoulder and I resisted jerking away. I smiled at her in as small a fashion as possible, so I wouldn’t tear the corners of my mouth. Read More…


He handed the jar to me, a small glass container with a fluttery light inside it, some kind of hybrid between electricity, butterflies, and lightning bugs. The glass lid clattered a little as there was nothing sealing it to the jar itself.

For all of its importance Jayman pressed it into my hands without much care, not waiting to see if I had a firm grip on the thing before he headed back off toward his cubicle. I almost dropped it, and that would have been a disaster.

Read More…


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