Second of two posts today. The first, which is the main one, is here.
There’s an announcement I have to make. Every so often, I write a short story. Earlier this year I finished one, and I thought it turned out well enough that I’d see if I could get it published. So I sent it off to Joel Caris at Into the Ruins and, to skip to the exciting part, it’s going to be in the fall issue!
Into the Ruins is, in Joel’s words, a “deindustrial science fiction quarterly focused on publishing speculative fiction that explores a future defined by natural limits, energy and resource depletion, industrial decline, climate change, and other consequences stemming from the reckless and shortsighted exploitation of our planet, and to imagine the ways that humans will adapt, survive, live, die, and thrive within this future.”
“The No-Account”, my contribution, is the story of Van, a young bureaucrat-in-training from the city-state of Pittsburgh circa 2220, ruled by a body styling itself the Rational Governance Council, which takes charge of making sure the city is run with scientifically determined best practices. Van is on a mission to a little village in the Appalachians that he knows practically nothing about, but hopes the mission is simple enough that even with his mediocre grades and grasp on ethnography he can pull it off: all he has to do is propose an alliance that really only offers benefits for the locals. But he discovers that, while English hasn’t changed all that much, they can’t quite seem to understand each other, and on the way to figuring out why, he finds that although he wasn’t planning on learning much, the people here have something big to teach him, and it’ll change him, even change Pittsburgh.
It’s to a large extent a story about stories, one that I started writing while working out some thoughts on why it is we put so much importance on the superficially sort of puzzling exercise of telling stories, and why they somehow seem able to communicate more than a straight-up essay, even if they’re full of stuff someone just made up. I was going to write an blog post about those thoughts, but then realized, Wait, I have to write this as a story.
Getting it published, sensibly enough, means I can’t put it up on the blog right now. If you’d like to see it in good company in your very own copy of the fall issue of Into the Ruins, though, you’ll be able to get it from the website as soon as it’s ready; I’ll post something here when that happens. And if the concept behind Into the Ruins sounds good to you—if you’re interested to read about runaways walking across the ruins of the American Southwest, and people beginning to settle in Antarctica as global warming makes growing land available, and dread palaces tiled with dead iPhones known as the silvery Apples of the ancients—well, you may find you want to subscribe. I can testify that I find the stories in it both riproaring and useful, the kinds of things I think back to for days to come and find myself trying to explain in tangentially related conversations.
To tide you over until the fall issue, though, here’s a stupid comic strip I drew:
And a quick update on my latest peregrinations: I went to West Virginia with my dad to hunt deer and celebrate Thanksgiving. I definitely succeeded at the second one. On the first one, well, I tried. One evening near dusk I was on top of the hill and two deer came crossing down below in single file. The rear one was a buck with a nice rack, but I got all excited and made my shot too hastily, and I missed and he ran away. It looks like becoming a successful hunter is still something to work on. But I did get to spend time with cousins I hadn’t talked to in ages, and awkwardly feel bad for having no idea how to make conversation with a church gymnasium full of 46 members of the West Virginia side of my family who are mostly near-strangers to me. I did talk to a few. I even met a prospective writer among them, just after the news got out about me getting published, causing me to look unusually impressive and her to be impressed (and me to feel strange about apparently being impressive).