ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Holiday Celebrations that are Out of this World - my science fiction #ff for the #WEPff December challenge.

Here we are! WEP's final challenge for the year 2015. Today we have been asked to present our entry with a science-fiction flavour. That was a big ask, so Yolanda and I asked the ninja, Alex, to do a guest post on writing in this genre. It helped my feeble efforts, so I hope it helped others.
But my default genre is romance, so, sure, I think I cover some of the science fiction tropes, but I meandered off into the realms of romance, mixed up a little with ironic words from George Orwell's 1984. 
I hope you enjoy my foray into sci-fi. Click on the badge to read more entries.

The Pod Faded to Black




Rachel was skinny, wan, with hair dank brown, darkening to black. Her eyes were grey mist, inviting closer scrutiny. Edward wondered why he felt a strange emotion on seeing her. It grew in his chest and moved upwards, causing his throat to tighten. When he spoke, he sounded like a schoolboy. 
Edward didn't understand Rachael's attraction. He didn't understand attraction, full stop. Random attraction wasn't encouraged on Xcelsior. But Rachel. He counted it as extraordinary luck that he worked side by side at the Ministry of Literature with a legend. She was probably the greatest writer of this generation. 
They met regularly at the Xcelsior Social Gathering of Like Minds for New Reincarnates. Both had been teleported to Xcelsior--she from Bandanland, he from Paradox 21--to prepare for the Annual Holiday Gathering and End of Year ReBooting of Minds. Edward was a poet. They needed his pen to create uplifting, soulful words for the Season of Celebration of Technological Miracles.

Rachel was already quite famous on Bandanland and beyond for her romance volumes which were widely distributed in special reading pods throughout the galaxy. Her exquisite words filled a void in the population who suffered from a surfeit of technology, whose regimented lives permitted no idle time for reality romance. Indeed, Rachel’s first lecture addressing the New Politic had been revealing: she’d waxed eloquent on the need for love and romance in people’s lives to make a sterile world more palpable. Edward, always a coward, had studiously kept his face passive, as he’d seen the Grand Enforcer and his minions frowning at her tender words. Finding partners for the population was their domain.
During the Social Time that followed, he found Rachel had not read any of his poetry. Few people had. He was a pedant, but the poems he penned on his stylistic device were empty, soulless, utilitarian. The poems in his head, they were a different thing entirely. Thirty-first-century poets in the Poleaxer Galaxy were obscure, even more irrelevant than their predecessors on the defunct planet Old Earth from which the Reincarnates sprang.
Rachel and Edward. They were the only people at the Social Gathering who were not involved in the intricacies of the New Politic skirmishes. The two of them often ended up in a dark corner, talking about their shared love of the literature of Old Earth.
‘I do miss having someone who knows who Shakespeare was,’ Edward hissed, well aware he had just committed Thoughtcrime. ‘I recite his sonnets by heart every morning. It helps me retain a fragment of my soul.’ He beckoned her to follow him and they leaned against a wall of glass impregnated with bright rolling lights which reminded him of drunken snakes. He squeezed his eyes shut and imagined a bright picture of the Bard instead. The lights were meant to stimulate your mind, but they unnerved him, and his glass of Health-Giving Herbal Tincture trickled down his once-pristine white jacket much like the edicts from the New Politic trickled down into his mind, displacing the finer things of his life.
Edward hated who he’d become. He felt the person he’d been, his reincarnation, was of a farmer on Old Earth, happily tilling soil and gathering real food.
“Looking around me,’ Rachel whispered, as to be heard speaking words that typified Ownlife was dangerous in this company, ‘I don’t see anyone who appears to have a soul.”
Rachel’s face, when she looked at him, seemed lacking. Her muscles and tendons didn’t really support her face frame. Odd. Was she a reincarnation or a robot?
“The only thing I find scintillating is literature and –”
“And?’ There was that unfamiliar pumping feeling in his wellspring, a strange bellyfeel. ‘Why don’t we move away from these drunken snakes to OurSpace?”
Edward knew then that he was going to love and romance her, despite it being a Sexcrime and despite her odd face. He knew they would make Goodsex together. But partnering was ordered by the New Politic. They would be relegated to the status of Unpersonhood if discovered.
They settled on an ugly plastic couch which could be impregnated with listening pods, so he spoke quietly. If the Love Ministry heard his next words he’d be subjected to ReOrientation Activity class after work each day. He’d be locked away until early in the Year Next because everyone would be busy practicing Relaxation, ReCommuning and Mindfulness to prepare for new technological discoveries.
“So we have to do something about this dearth of literature,” he said. Both knew to substitute “romance” for “literature.”
Rachel smiled. At that moment Edward understood why her face seemed curious and incomplete. Her face was a superstructure which until now had never supported a smile.
They did not, of course, return to his pod and sleep the night clasped in each other’s arms, although that was what Edward had on his mind. Instead, he invited her to join him for his Early Rising Feast the following morning. It was Xcelsior’s Annual Holiday Gathering and End of Year ReBooting of Minds’s Eve, so they would be offered a glass of historic Egg Nog that had originated on Old Earth. The eggy drink would be followed by Xcelsior’s chef’s attempt at pancakes created with nano-blasted cereal pellets drowned in manufactured sweetener mimicking honey found on Old Earth.


***  
Those first moments as they found their table for the Early Rising Egg Nog and Pancakes feast were a new, exciting dance. Sipping their fat, yellow drinks that brought a sparkle to Rachel’s cheeks, Edward thought: This is what it feels like to be alive. I never knew this feeling inside before. Rachel and he were like two ballet dancers executing a new move. Touch. Swirl. Touch. He dreamed of lazy hazy days in the country, running through fields of sweet grasses. 
Something sparked between them. Satiated by a full stomach, he asked her to join him at the Simulated Ozarks’ pod to see the flaming maples. Rachel accepted. In the Ozarks, Edward would be himself, his best self.
When they were surrounded by a particularly fine farmhouse amid crimson and vermilion foliage, he whispered to her his secret poems on country life.
When he finished, they kissed with a careful passion. This was going to be the best Annual Holiday Gathering and End of Year ReBooting of Minds in history.
Then the pod turned black.
WORDS: 1064
FCA

Thanks for coming by and reading my story. I hope you check out more stories. Not so many this month! 







50 comments:

  1. That was excellent! Hopefully, love survives in the future. Have a Merry Christmas.

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  2. Some classic phrases: "Rebooting of Minds."
    I had to laugh when I read this: "Sipping their fat, yellow drinks that brought a sparkle to Rachel’s cheeks, Edward thought: This is what it feels like to be alive."

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    1. I've always got to have my gluttony in there Peaches! Glad you liked it!

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  3. I don't think you need to be afraid of writing science fiction. This is great. Happy Holidays. :)

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    1. Thanks Deborah, I'm glad you think so. Have yours ready to read now that I'm out of bed!

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  4. I posted my bit today. Zenarra the Warrior Queen.

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  5. The pod going black was either a good or bad thing. Clever way to end it.
    Like the mixture of old world and science fiction. What a cold, scary future.

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    1. Glad you got the cold, scary future, Alex. I had to mix the Old Earth in there.

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  6. Alex is right: that future is scary. The pod turning black was your "The Lady or the tiger" ending, right? We get to choose. My own entry is going up in a few moments. Great job by the way.

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    1. Yes, how would you like it to end, Roland? I go for bad myself. Thanks!

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  7. The end was brilliant. Just when you think it's going to get passionate, everything turns black. I would like to know what you think happens after the end. Did the pod turn black because they are getting it on or because they are in trouble? Hmm...

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  8. The end was brilliant. Just when you think it's going to get passionate, everything turns black. I would like to know what you think happens after the end. Did the pod turn black because they are getting it on or because they are in trouble? Hmm...

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    1. Yes, that was a nasty ending, but what else could I do? They're not going to get their HEA there, lol!

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  9. That sounds ominous, Denise. . .did the pod turn black because of their doing (for privacy) or was it the overlord hearing treasonous talk? I find this reminds me of the novel 1984 (you must conform. . .. Well done! My entry will be up tomorrow

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    1. Yes, as I said at the beginning, it has tones of 1984. Love that 1984 irony!

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  10. Denise this is lovely. Deborah is right, no need to fear sci-fi, you've got it down pat! Loved the ending, but also the emerging love story. Wonderful, and a new holiday to boot! Good going!

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    1. Thanks Yolanda! It was fun to write, heavily influenced by the tone of 1984 I admit. Looking forward to reading the other entries. :-)

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  11. Wow. I suspect (and it is the romantic in me) that if the pod turns black because their illicit liaison has been discovered both of them would consider it worth it. I hope so. I really hope so.

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    1. I do too Sue, but I'm not sure about the HEA.

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  12. Words like "Unpersonhood" remind me of the newspeak in 1984! Very good read, the ending is ominous.

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    1. Yes Rhonda as I said in preamble I used as many newspeak words as fitted. Thanks!

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  13. Hi Denise - that was fascinating to read - great mix of wonderfully appropriate names .. and as the others have said 1984 to a point. The Pod going black ... did Rachel turn it black I wonder ... her dank dark hair going to black ... could have influence. You could really turn this into an ongoing Saga ... fun to read - and how terrible to be so controlled - real life can be like that in some countries.

    Well done - cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks Hilary. You've thought of possibilities I hadn't. I must think about the idea of where this could go. Much of the world's population would recognise some of the controlling elements.

      Merry Christmas Hilary!

      Denise/-)

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  14. Excellent, complex and esoteric. You accomplished so much in such a short format. Love the literary connotations.

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  15. Fascinating. Interesting how most of what I've been reading paints a dark future, chilling. Sometimes I think the best of what humanity has created is at the apex. Is it all down hill from here? According to our current values, maybe. But then, the next generation always views the 'old ones' with a certain amount of disdain, and vice versa. Merry Christmas Denise.

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    1. I get you Judy. It's just so easy to go dystopian, isn't it? I do think it's all downhill from now...boom, boom, boom!

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  16. This is a pretty bleak future, but I like how feelings of love still manage to shine through. The ending was also perfect. It can be either good or bad, and my mind is spinning with the possibilities right now. Thanks!

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    1. Thank you L.G. Yes, there are all sorts of options with the open ending!

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  17. Delightful (and I'm not saying that because you're "upper-echelon"). It isn't feeble like you're joking in your introduction to your post. It's fun and it's the story I have read twice, both times enjoying your sci-fi writing.

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    1. Thank you odell01. Me? Upper echelon? I don't think so. I enjoyed writing this, but I would have struggled without the romance element. I'm glad you enjoyed it and read it twice. :-)

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  18. All the jargon made this feel so.. I don't know.. robotic? Though I suppose that's the point... An emptiness world without love and hope and all that. Dug this!

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    1. Yep, Madilyn, that was the idea. An empty, hollow world without love. Glad you dug it m'lady!

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  19. Then the pod turned black.

    Nice way to leave me in the dark.
    Was love what next did brew
    or was it just a Christmas stew?
    On the planets from which they came
    I wounder what was their game.


    Still a nice job to make this old mind go round and round.

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    1. The old mind go round and round, eh? So did mine, Desk49! Wasn't easy trickin' you!

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  20. Interesting. I'm intrigued by the concept of re-incarnation. Makes one wonder where the soul goes, or comes from. Forbidden love is so passionate. This was intriguing.

    Happy Holidays to you Denise. Enjoy some good times, and romance :)

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    1. Thanks very much Donna. Same to you. We need a little more romance!

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  21. Beautiful yin/yang contrasts, Denise. The open ending provided hope, which is what romance does, I think. I also think you could expand this, keep it rolling as what you've written is super good!! Merry Christmas and Happy New year, Mate. May all of life's blessings be yours.

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    1. Coming back at you, Mate! Thanks for coming by and reading my story. You're a great Mate indeed! (Hope you caught David Attenborough's Great Barrier Reef doco!)

      May all of life's blessings be yours too Kittie. Hope life is good in North Carolina!

      Denise :-)

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  22. That was a nice read. Loved the contrasts in it.

    Greetings from London.

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  23. Hi Denise
    Loved your story and thrilled it is just a story. I think you did a bang up job for the sci-fi challenge. We written.
    Nancy

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  24. You are right, Denise. It does remind me of George Orwell's 1984. I loved it. The ending had me hopeful. And it leaves me wishing for more. Should you develop this for a novel? YEAH, MAN! I've read several that I think could. But yours is definite GOTTA WRITE THAT THING! :-) Love the way you do romance. You write well, my friend. Never have any doubt about YOUR abilities. Merry Christmas. <3 xo

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    1. This is very high praise from such a great writer as you Robyn! Thank you so much. I'll have to think about keeping on with it! Merry Christmas!!

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  25. Loved it. My favorite bit - "the ReBooting of minds". I could use one this year! :)

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  26. Just me catching up here. This was fun and scary at the same time. Loved it, esp the ending! Such a cold and horrifying world...glad that Old Earth and earthen passions still linger.

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