Friday, December 14, 2007

Slipstream--Claire Phillips

This creative writing class familiarizes students with the art of making the strange familiar or the familiar strange. Students are introduced to genre works, ranging from pre-cyberpunk SF to the present practice of “slipstream”. Both experimental and traditional story-telling techniques are reviewed with a special emphasis on prose style and hybrid narrative forms. Projects include the short story and the film treatment and are peer reviewed in a workshop format. Topics for writing exercises are drawn from an array of sources, including the study of nanotechnology, brain chemistry and ubiquitous computing. Sub-genres include space and colonization, cyborgs, future cities and women and science fiction.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Flash Fiction and 365tomorrows

Internet culture thrives on immediate gratification. Webcomics and blogs provide readers with the information or joke they desire in less than a couple minutes, and the more quickly the site can deliver the message or punchline, the more popular it becomes. Flash fiction (self-contained stories between 250-1000 words) is the next logical step.

Science fiction has a long tradition of being a black sheep when it comes to literature. Due to its early success in the pulp magazine market, people consider scifi to be a mass-produced, audience-driven genre that is more concerned with satisfying its readers than creating art. It’s whimsical and fun, the way a blockbuster movie is, and like a blockbuster movie’s audience, many readers of scifi are looking for a quick thrill. The flash fiction format makes it easy to deliver the thrill of a new universe in under five minutes; however, neither the brevity of the form nor scifi’s reputation as a guilty pleasure actually interferes with its purpose as art. I equate writing ‘literary’ science fiction with being a ninja: if you’re good, the reader doesn’t know you’re good until it’s too late. If you’re really, really good, they possibly never will.

Anyways, go check out my daily flash fiction website at We ‘publish’ a wide variety of scifi, from the strictly conventional to the stylized and experimental, so there’s something for everyone. Go ahead and submit something or join us in the forums.

I’d encourage anyone who wants to send us a story to read back a few weeks to get a feel for what kind of things we print (a good rule in general, when submitting). I generally consider the site to be R-rated, but we have occasionally turned down stories for being too explicit (when we do this to a story we’d otherwise accept, we’ll explain our reasons in the rejection letter and encourage resubmission). If you have any questions, you can respond in the comments or drop me an email.

Here are the two stories I read in class:


This is the story that made the website take off, thanks to boingboing and a few minor slashdottings.

We also have a podcast, which you can find here, though updates are sporadic.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


By Janell Hughes

The scientists knew what this, they call it M2 (modern medicine- how creative), could do- at least, they knew how it could help mankind. They had no clue how it could cause harm. (Trust me, it does.) And why should they? It's not as if they communicate with those innovators of travel technologies. And vice-versa.

It turns out that each time a human steps through, some aspect of this amazing M2, which is designed to never leave the body and to attach itself to the double-helix of every cell, corrupts the data of the human DNA- interferes with enzymes or alignment or some such biological issue on the microscopic level.

While neither pool of scientists were aware of this issue at the times of each's respective creation, both are fully informed now. And since Guilt is one of the now-eradicated diseases that had been a burden to the human population, they feel none as their innovations rake in royalties like an anteater sucking that hill dead. And the guys in charge of this whole mess, the guys that analyzed both as they went through all phases of proper testing (theoretical, cellular, animal, human), they knew. And so these guys set up the Council for Mutation Maintenance as a way to counteract the effects of the combination of two integral technologies of today. And every registered human must make a habit of being monitored. Like going to the doctor but colder, more sterile and much more detached. More needles more scans more prods. You avoid this place whenever possible, any of its institutions.

Dreams of Celebrity Zombies and Sleep Deprivation

I'm feeling better all the time. At least not crying. At most not dying. Putting cold coins on my nose, but they fall when I laugh. More nights, hot and empty as tires.
Screaming in my brain, syntax and diction were stirring within the pink synapses like fireworks contained in a glass jar. I don't really know how it all happened, this strange and horrible damnation of the flesh and mind. What was considered weird in your time is now just a cup of old fashion lemonade, comforting and a little bit watery. Now the whole damned world is a mass of wretched bumbling half-goats and half-mad zombies. Now people would sell pieces of their soul for a freakin' good time, or practice taxidermy on their pet cats. I hear the smell is just atrocious.
Room service! Do you want your soul dry cleaned or washed?
Ever since that whole discovery it's been this way. I remember. Dr. Barnaby S. Pippleman had discovered the secret of life, the fruits of creation. Wittleman had taken the chemical secretions from the pituitary gland and injected it into the corpse of Vonnegut. It was said that Vonnegut just jerked alive, eyes dilated, elbows contracting. It was the start of the weird and terrible. Chaos swept over the public, nobody knew who was ReBirthed or natural. People were fucking ReBirths and producing half-dead fetuses. There was screaming at the births, screaming and vomiting and lubricating. Everyone's careful now. Careful to avoid committing necrophilia and aware of death's ever-constant presence of the now. The ones that were famous have it the worst. Everyone is aware that their molecules and polysaccharides have melted from the decay. Nobody wants to associate with their kind anymore. Now they have some sort of underground society. I like to hang around the bars where the o'l has-beens hangout. Nobody tries to sell shit to you there.

My brain is a suction for sex. I can’t help it, that’s how I was made. Although I can’t say it satisfies me any less than it does those gelatin – filled muscle sacks. The suction pulls, it stretches me in all the right places. Bones, hair follicles, perfectly tuned resistors and tube amplifiers swarm my box with well - calculated stimulation. Varicose veins, trafficking through my passages… squirting sake sex sauce, flowing rip tides of possible destruction… I love it. My love light tells me so. My lust button makes me know. My gripping, knuckle – busting, blood – draining orgasm lever forces me to know. And when user 001790 tunes these knobs, buttons, radiators, stratometers, dial – a – bators, and levlers just right… I believe that I am experiencing close to what the walking gelatin baggies claim is the greatest feeling in their short existence. But they cannot be programmed like me. Their wobble – wands and woman – wieners must be physically, and sometimes even… emotionally? Compatible. Suckers. Me, I just sit here pleased to serve to be served. The slot, my slot, my money slot, is where the first torrent of blissful rapture harkens the experience. The coin drops from just the mathematically correct height to exert enough pressure onto my inflatable laughing love gland, the one shaped like an efficient boot, to start a trickle of the squirting sake sex sauce, that everyone seems to react very positively towards. The smiles do something. The suction approaches. The empty void is filled. Filled with meat. Meat of a mumpy man, who missed his mother’s meal to meander over here, over here to this glorious new hole in the wall, to meet his new maker. My legs, ample appendages. My stare, never ending… my pleasure… always… never die… never crash… fill the void. Buzz. Next?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Its Own Sweetness"-M.Hettich

“I want to do it to that British girl.”

That was my mantra, so to speak, that whole year. It wasn’t a very good mantra, but it was something, which is what I needed. I had been desperately searching for some sort of meaning in my life since the future became now, since they banned public television and radio, since Hollywood had taken over.

My life had become the stuff of post apocalyptic distopian awareness, but nothing exciting had actually happened. No nuclear bombs had wiped out the big-apple, no epidemic diseases had forced humanity into any sort of careful interactive subtlety, no reason to move underground yet. That British girl was more of a living figment, imagined from some interpreted experience I’d had with an exchange student who had charmed me with her wit and then promptly disappeared into a hazy glamorous Neu-American fashion scheme, full of colors and aggressive sexuality. But, those two minutes, when we had talked about the tragic meandering of the plot in some book I had been trying to read or a song I was obsessed with (I actually don’t remember), had stuck with me. It had been my only real interaction with anything tender and feminine in years.

I’ve never been a very funny person. This accounts for my terrible luck with the ladies. I think if I had been able to turn up the silly and turn on the charm, maybe I’d have been able to stop her from getting all herped up and cavorting with the scantly clad pretty-boys I’d recently seen her exploiting, full swing Neu-American rock star.


The Godchild

In the end, we give praise to the Godchild. The Godchild is the son of mankind, his ultimate progeny. It has no legs, no arms, and no body. Nevertheless, it is still there, watching as we kill ourselves off. In the name of science, we worship the Godchild, whose neon lights, flickering colors, and humming electronics give us strength in our time of need. Very soon, we shall be gone. All that will remain is the Godchild. The Godchild is everything. An intelligence that passes even our own. Though we designed it, it has gone far beyond what ever we thought possible. These are my thoughts in the last days of man. My one regret is that I will not see what the Godchild shall become… where its evolution shall take it next. However, there is no doubt that it shall go there. We forced the Godchild to the point it has reached…now it is out of our hands. Some think that it is what has killed us as a species. This is false. All that the Godchild is, is existence… it serves no purpose beyond that. In the early years, we did use the Godchild to kill one another…but that was very long ago. It has surpassed such trivial notions of war… it has adapted to the world we shall leave it.

In the end, all that shall remain is the Godchild. I give praise to thee, child of science.

I give praise to thee.