Today I had a story publish in the very first magazine that published my work. My goodness, I’ve been publishing fiction for seven years now. Lucky Seven. The editor of the journal was unknown when The Airgonaut launched, for a year, until Sheldon Lee Compton stepped into the light.
Not only is Mr. Lee a great writer, but he’s a great champion of other writers. Actually, when I think of what it means to be a writer, I think of Shel. He is writing all the time, through health scares and upheavals, through loud and quiet. He is compelled and compelling.
So, he had a space in the August Issue and asked if I might submit something and of course I said I would. I sent him four things, and he took this story, “O,” and another one which will run in September. Here is a direct link to “O,” if you’d like to get to it.
I have always read science fiction and liked it. I think when I was 12 or 13, like so many other kids that age, I read Frank Herbert’s DUNE in one sitting, finishing it like a maniac at 4AM. It was summer and it was so quiet at that hour, so gray and damp.
As I sit in my office, I reached over and just put together a stack of some of my favorite sci-fi books. I’ve recommended Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination more times than I can remember, and everyone who has read it has been impressed. It brings the concept of the jaunt, a mind-generated transportation mode. My little flash also owes something to Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, with its consideration of how to package humans for interstellar travel. Asimov’s rules are also mentioned. And oh, that Bradbury story where all the people are gone, but the fully automatic house of the future keeps making the eggs for breakfast every morning. It’s called “There Will Come Soft Rains” (Glorious title!!!) There’s that allusion, too. I feel like nobody can write about Mars without acknowledging some of his ideas in Martian Chronicles. He’s really something special. That story was 1950.
So, robots could simply keep the humans comfortable, follow existing human orders, and allow for an average lifespan.
I mean, have you tried the Dall-E AI generator? Robots are continuing to ‘get us’ in meaningful and human ways. Here is what Dall-E created when I asked for “lone girl in spaceship cafeteria:”
Kind of crazy how human the aggregation becomes in terms of tone, POV, and image.
Well, I hope you’ll read “O.” I like using the name O’Hara because I like the writer John O’Hara. He would have been very unhappy with life on Mars, although one of my favorite ways he described himself is the world’s best second-rate writer. He must have driven people crazy in his own way.
I wrote a story a long time ago, called “Don’t Upset the World’s Best Second-Rate Writer,” and O’Hara does indeed get under people’s skin. But in this story, O has a girl (AI?) who will miss him forever. Awwwww I feel this.
Thanks for visiting the blog. Like everyone, I’ve been surviving the covid fatigue, and am already dreading a new school year as September approaches, not knowing if I’ll be live, remote, or hybrid. So yeah, being remote is a thing in this story, too.
The only personal note I can think to add is that this story, if you scroll down to the bio, is the first time my mini-bio has included a birth year and lifeline. I need to keep reminding myself there’s things I still need to do. I’m closer to the grave than the cradle. Felt the need to face it. May we all live so long to not only have that worry, but also to do the things we need to in the time given. Keep writing, keep reading, keep making a difference in the lives of those we love. Anne
The header illustration is a detail from a painting. Skrips, Bill. Stand In. 2013. Mixed Media. Photo by A. E. Weisgerber.
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