Manual The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2011

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Authors from Side A writing stories set in Side B sometimes fail to do enough research, make assumptions, and consequently make mistakes. One such error noted in the discussion concerned the difference between European and American badgers.


A European badger being described as if it were an American badger is—drum roll, please—the Wrong Badger! There are times when the strangest things set me off down the path to Story. My Muse is a weirdo. Was this story personal to you in any way? If so, how? In addition to the above—and my ongoing Anglophilia—the only personal links to the story would be a delight and fascination with the incredible scope of actual theme parks, here and abroad. I took my non-French-speaking kids there once when they were small and they had a wonderful time anyway, thus proving that Theme Park is a universal language.

Why do you write? Why do I write?

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I love it. At those times a story becomes a puzzle to be solved to my satisfaction. I enjoy writing in many voices, to many purposes, everything from light-and-silly to dark and serious. Humor can make plenty of socially relevant observations and raise some serious questions. Humor can make you think. No wonder tyrants fear laughter.

Who do you consider to be your influences? My influences are myriad and widely varied. Maybe the best thing to do is speak about the two people who gave me so much inspiration and encouragement from the very beginning that.

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My mother was an English teacher, so when she told me stories, they were often from American literature. She motivated me to read, and before I learned how to write she would let me dictate to her the original stories I had to tell.

My father taught me about comedy. He was a survivor of the Holocaust who lost his entire family but who still held onto a marvelous sense of humor. Our home welcomed laughter. What are you working on now? I like multitasking when I write. If I hit a snag in one project I give it a time-out and switch to another. So am I. Filed Under Interviews. But I am a trauma survivor, and I have experienced the sensation of dissociation and of big swaths of memory that just… seem to have vanished from my recall. It took a very long time to craft, given its length; about two years, if I remember correctly.

Well, I have some things in common with the narrator of the story. I too am these things. How did you discover the world of fountain pens, and what are some of your favorite pens and inks? My mom is a fountain pen fan as well, and she got me hooked on them when I was very little.

My absolute favorite pen just in terms of user experience is probably a Pilot Custom Heritage 92 that I own. It has a medium-fine nib and it writes like a dream. Another modern favorite is a Sailor Professional Gear, also with a medium-fine nib, and a Pelikan M with a fine nib. And Diamine Firefly, and J. I have a small ink problem. Oh, so much of it.

Review Fantasy & Science Fiction, March-April edition | Captain Maybe

Balancing that, and illuminating their confusion without confusing the reader—that was incredibly difficult. It took me months to find a satisfying conclusion, as well. I keep coming back to ethics, personal responsibility, memory, trauma survivorship as central themes. But I think this story is a culmination of a lot of that work for me: I could not have written it even five years ago, because of the technical challenges involved. Novel edits! In some sense, readers have always been free to rewrite the texts they consume.

But we seem to draw the line at explicitly altering the words on the page as a reader. Few of us have any pride of authorship over business writing or functional texts like contracts , but fiction feels particularly personal to the author. Do these standards evolve over time? Do advancements in technology change attitudes?

New genres and ways of storytelling? I wanted to explore these questions. I am, however, particularly resistant to having others change my words even contracts. I found it incredibly moving. This is the longest story here — the novella — and contained the weakest writing. It also had some annoying aspects — like an AI that only communicated information when it was convenient to the story and characters who go on a mission to a strange planet actually, a long-deserted Earth without means of communicating with each other. It was OK — nothing especially memorable.

Guide The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2011

A decent story, but nothing special. It concerns three characters in an infinte house telling stories to prolong their existence — and incidentally freezing time for everyone else. The protagonist confronts them with a true story, breaking their hold on the world. The best part of this story is the stories within the story — tales about time and death.

Especially memorable was the one about people aware of their impending death travelling to the countryside to await the end; it turns out that they are, in fact, simulations and their deaths are caused by their processes running out of memory; at the very end they freeze and spend the rest of eternity in one endless final moment.

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Miscellaneous musings on life, literature and lots of other stuff

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