Potential Questions for Book Club Discussion of Finch

finch covers
UK manifestation
US manifestation

(1) When did the infection start?

(2) Is it localized or has it spread?

(3) Do you retain control of all motor functions?

(4) Is there a voice in your head? What is it telling you to do?

(5) When did the doors start appearing? Before or after the voice?

(6) Would you call your apartment or other living space empty or crowded?

(7) If crowded, what is making it so cluttered?

(8) If empty, who emptied it, and why?

(9) When the green light appeared, did you assume you’d suffered a failure of vision?

(10) Were you able to identify whether the screaming was internal or external without someone else telling you?

(11) Was it just a green light or was someone there?

(12) How did you communicate?

(13) Did you go any place special? If so, what did you see?

(14) Do you have nightmares unlike the nightmares you had before?

(15) Did you find the characters in the book compelling or too static?

(16) Was the setting fully developed? What real-world places did it remind you of?

(17) Did the novel have a satisfying story arc?

(18) Do you feel at peace now…or is something nagging at you?


Purging the Past: Ambergris Beta Version, Frag #1

[encoded on the back of the dust jacket photo on the original hardcover of City of Saints:] I didn’t disappear. I tripped through one of the [redacted]. I became Samuel Tonsure, trying forever to return but failing, while my doppelganger, put in place by Dar Sarduce’s people, continued to write about the place: a hollow man writing an echo while I continued to flail through the history of the place, the link between me and my surrogate a hair-thin connection between my waking thoughts and his sleeping dreams. It is not because of the internet that he feels weak and attenuated at times. It is because he exists in two places at once, and is the copy. [airlifted: 3quests/sarnod]

Eventually, I came to a halt. I came to the edge of an underground sea. I became content in my exile and the world I had come from became the dream. I rested there dormant and then dead for a long time.

Then Duncan Shriek came and ate my memories. Brought me back. In his head. An original now a copy. Forever ensconced within his brain and copies of his brain. The link with my doppelganger renewed, faded, then severed for good.

Once, I stood on the shore of an endless sea and wondered what would become of me. Now I am everywhere and nowhere. Now I am at rest.

Excerpt: Finch Presentation, Thrilling Wonder Stories 2 Conference


From Thrilling Wonder Stories 2 (Nov. 26, London)

The Occupiers, the gray caps, flood the city. They transform the city of Ambergris through chaos and purpose. And six years later, Finch is stuck within the new order as reluctant collaborator. Is compromised by his mere presence in a police station, his status as investigator of a double murder that the rebels don’t want him to solve and his inhuman bosses insist he solve on penalty of his life.

But what does the Rising mean for the city of Ambergris? What does it mean for the spaces Finch must negotiate in his investigation? What is the city occupied, and what is it as a failed state?

(Aeron Alfrey)

As the city moves to a post-colonial situation, it is becoming a colony again, just for a different side. It is becoming contaminated from within and without. An occupied city can be a city in a straitjacket—martial law, curfews, road blocks, imprisonments—but occupied cities that also exist as failed cities can have both less and more agency. They are simultaneously closed vessels and extremely porous. The cross-pollination that occurs creates hybrids of necessity, and allegiances that make little sense out of context.

In Ambergris, then, Occupation takes roughly three forms.

Reconstruction, Renovation, and Transformation. All three of these contexts or states of being impact not just the city’s present, but also its past and its future.

—Re/Construction: Rebuilding and new construction that alters the very map of the city in ways that favor the Occupier.

—Renovation: Perhaps more properly, repurposing, as in the repurposing of existing spaces.

—Transformation: More radical than “construction” or “renovation,” “transformation” creates change in an irreversible way while at times revealing the gap between the reach and intent of the occupier and the culture of the occupied. These transactions sometimes lead to situations beyond the ken of even the occupier.

It is in all three states that my fantasy world and the real world coincide, echo, and mirror—communicate with each other.

[Read more…]

On the Magpie Mind and the (Mis)Uses of Research

This evening I had the weekly write-club session with my writing buddy Peter M. Ball (the man who committed the novella Horn). I went back over the novel, which I’ve not touched for about a month for a multitude of reasons (PhD, proofing short story collections and stories for various anthologies, fear, laziness, etcetera). I re-read the last chapter I’d written just to get a feel for it, to put myself back into the story (so I can distinguish the pseudo-fairytale German-like setting from the pseudo-Arabian Nights Damascus-like setting, and get my tone straight).

Everything was flowing rather well; I was happy with the state of the writing as I’d left it. It needs work, of course, it’s a bit skeletal in parts and needs a good hamburger of plot, but on the whole I was happy with the first draft. And then I came across one of those gems that a writer finds her/himself heir to … the things you insert into the text when you’ve not yet done enough research about a particular topic, so you put in square brackets, type in CAPS a note-to-self and highlight it in yellow. Or that’s my normal habit, at least. On this occasion I seem to have been a little laissez-faire and so what I actually found in the middle of a paragraph was this little beauty:

[Read more…]

On reprint collections or Never accept a raisin danish from an Evil Monkey

*Angela is snoozing on an eighteenth century fainting couch, using a pile of books as a pillow, and blanketed by sheets of a A4 paper (printed on one side, double space, 12 pt font). A blue pen dangles from her limp fingers and a large blue splot of ink mars her wrinkled brow.*

Evil Monkey creeps closer, leans down and yells: Hey!

Angela: Argh!!! *flails about, falls off the eighteenth century fainting couch, swears* (a lot)

Evil Monkey: Did I wake you?

Angela: I’ve known you for what? A week and a half?

Evil Monkey: About that, yeah.

Angela: And I already hate you. [Read more…]

Oedipus Hex

Anil Menon‘s short fiction has appeared in magazines such as Albedo One, Apex Digest, Chiaroscuro, Interzone, LCRW, and Strange Horizons. His most recent story, The Poincare Sutra, can be found in the utterly gorgeous Sybil’s Garage No. 7. His YA/SF novel The Beast With Nine Billion Feet (Zubaan, India) was released in November 2009. It’s been shortlisted for the 2010 Vodafone-Crossword Children’s Fiction Prize. He blogs at Round Dice and can be reached at [email protected] He doesn’t typically refer to himself in third person.
This is a story. This is a true story. This is the story by a boy soldier in Sierra Leone. This is an unpublished story by Kafka, found in the coat pocket of a dead Jew. Paul Verlaine scribbled this story on a napkin at the Le Chat Noir the night before he shot Rimbaud with a 7mm. This story is like a chess game played with a machine. This story was told by your mother the night you were conceived. This is the tale Shahryar told Scheherazade on their wedding night. This is a story never read before. This is a 2,500-year old creation myth extracted from an Egyptian sarcophagus. This story was found in Sigmund Freud’s pocket the night he died.

These stories are not part of the story I will shortly tell. In fact, to avoid testing your patience, here is the story:
[Read more…]

On the Thickness of Skin by Angela Slatter

I’ve dealt with a lot of rejected/dejected writers this week, for one reason and another. They’ve been dejected because of the rejections. It’s completely understandable. Rejection hurts.

It somehow says ‘You’re not good enough’, no matter how confident you are of yourself as a person or as a writer. Sometimes a writer’s week brings more than one rejection, which just feels like the Universe has given you a paper cut and rubbed lemon juice into it.

[Read more…]

State of Today’s Mushroom

Today’s guest-mushroom has paused her reading in order to create this entry.

Today’s mushroom carries around a copy of The Third Bear. Due to constant interruptions, today’s mushroom has not even finished reading the first story.

Today’s mushroom wonders. Is the bear a hero or a villain? In this story, the bear wreaks havoc.What is the third bear thinking?

Once the story leaves the writer, the story belongs to the reader. What the reader thinks of the story, how the story affects the reader, how the reader engages with the story, these are things out of the writer’s control. Was it the writer’s intention for me to think about the third bear as the hero in his own story? I don’t know. I haven’t finished the story yet. Perhaps there are no heroes in this story, perhaps there are more than one. What is a hero anyway?  And do I really need heroes for me to like a story?

Today’s mushroom considers heroes. Are heroes tasty?  If I mixed them in with my soup, will heroes make me heroic too? Heroes and the consumption thereof . . . hold that thought. Ha, ha.

Today’s mushroom is having an attack of absurd melancholy. It happens even to the best of mushrooms. But heroes. . . yes . . . perhaps heroes have those too. Who are your heroes and if you consumed them what would they taste like to you?

Today’s mushroom wanders off to read some more. Hopefully, the mushroom will finish reading this story before more interruptions occur.

**updated to say: I finished reading the first story. A five star story, definitely awesome. Off to read more.

Pondering Author Platform

Guest bloggery: While one of Angela’s personalities is arguing with Evil Monkey about who pays for the coffee, another other part is over here, hopefully posting something useful … other personalities are variously conducting a shoe-shine business in New Orleans, drinking coffee in Melbourne and complaining about the weather, and planning a jewellery heist in Paris (wherein I will ultimately be caught due to the permanent nose print I left on the glass surrounding the French Crown jewels) …

I work in a writers centre dealing on a daily basis with – surprise – writers. Some days are great: people have intelligent questions, take advice, succeed. Other days, I feel like I’m chasing my tail, talking to myself, being punished by The Universe … and I start to think ‘If I smack my head against the wall hard enough, it will all go away.’ One of the things I see a lot is writers madly self-promoting … without having written so much as a word on a cocktail napkin or published even a short story or an opinion piece. Oh, they have ‘platform’ – but then, so do many of my shoes – but they have no product. And the fact that this is a problem seems to escape many of them.

And so, may I present a repost of Pondering, something I wrote last February when my brain was ‘sploding … [Read more…]

Guest Blogging – or How Did I Get Here?? (i)

Angela Slatter is an Australian writer trapped in Brisbane, Queensland (not California, dude) by a malfunctioning vortex manipulator. Here she recounts how she got into the guest blogging business and talks about herself in third person. She also blogs over here about shiny objects that catch her attention.

Scene One:

Jeff: Pssst. You. Wanna blog-sit for a while? There are a few people here already, but I kinda need someone to take care of the memory cathedral; someone not too fond of sunlight. Maybe you’d like a holiday?

Angela: Sure! A free blogiday? Why not.

Jeff: You just need to blog a bit, write something smart and funny.

Angela: Sure, no problem, Smart and funny is my default.

Jeff: *grabs bags and heads out door* Cool! Bye.

Angela: Bye! Don’t worry about anything. *Brain immediately goes blank, not one funny or smart thought appears, not even when she taps the top of the food tin. However, three large cats do appear as does one Evil Monkey (wearing a fez). Oy.

[Read more…]