Archive | Writing

Thoughts about the writing life, professional issues, the state of the industry and philosophical concerns for writers.

Kurt Vonnegut on the shape of stories

The lecture goes on, but unfortunately the video doesn’t; this is too bad, because then Vonnegut describes Kafka’s The Metamorphosis:

Kurt Vonnegut's sketch of Kafka's The Metamorphosis

Poor old Gregor Samsa. Not only does he start really low on the GI-axis (good fortune, ill fortune), he turns into a cockroach and experiences infinite ill-fortune.

The full text of Vonnegut’s lecture can be found at Lapham’s Quarterly, where he goes on to explain why Hamlet is still regarded as one of the world’s great bits of literature.

Alltop prefers that Scottish play.

New Fiction: Empty Space Times Two

old-fashioned typewriter hammers

This piece is probably the most straight-up sentimental thing I’ve ever written, but I’m quite chuffed to join the ranks of the writers who have been published by The Saturday Evening Post. (That includes, you guessed it, my literary hero, Kurt Vonnegut.)

In case you’re wondering, it’s NOT autobiographical, though I did take a typing class in grade nine on the advice of my cousin, Beth. All the effort of learning to type has paid off 1000-fold, though I never had a relationship based on it. 🙂

You can find the story in their contemporary fiction section: Empty Space Times Two. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nosferadude

Graffito of a cartoon vampire looking at garlic

Vampire fiction was my education. It was all I was allowed to sink my teeth into when I was young.

And when I was just a little boy, I loved it.  My mom introduced me to the vampire Lestat, and all his cronies, and I caught the hunger for bloodsucking then. We read Stephen King’s book, Salem’s Lot.  We went back to the original, by Bram Stoker. And read other Victoriana.

But then something bad happened, at least for me and all the others who once found a thrill in the vampire myth – the vampires became the heroes of the stories. They became the ideal. And then they got sparkly.

It was at that point that I lost all interest. Mom found other things to occupy our time, and we moved on. Sure we were annoyed by the proliferation of teenie-bopper nosferatu, but we took it in stride.

And then humanity discovered that vampires were real.

People disappeared every year. Everybody knew that. The authorities assumed the people who disappeared were runaways, or homeless, or had nobody looking out for them, so they just kind of fell off the radar.

But then in 2021 the first conscious AI came online, and the fellow who invented it had lost a sister under similar circumstances.  He instructed iT (short for intelligent Technology) to look for clues to her fate, and you know what iT found?  Lots of people “disappeared” because the vampires were eating them, and then disposing of their bodies.

It was horrible.  No doubt about it, but at the same time, it seemed like a pretty minor problem, given all our other issues – massive climate change, population migration, genocide. But at this point, we’d had TruBlood, Twilight, a host of other similar stories, and  a generation of women had fallen in love with the idea of sparkly, sexy vampires. They sought out the hidden nests of the undead. Most never returned, and those that did make it home again usually ate all of their former family.

It was clear that something had to be done.  Once and for all, many of us decided, we must eradicate the menace of vampires from the Earth.  This rag-tag assemblage of people were probably the last group that you’d expect to tackle such dangerous quest – we were nerds, geeks, obsessive fanboys.  But we were able to convince a few geneticists and nanotechnologists to work on technologies that could turn these evil bloodsuckers into productive members of society.  And they did it!

All we had to do to turn a vampire back into a quasi-human was an injection of the nanotech in the heart.

iT helped us figure out the vectors — where did the vampires live during the day, and what did they do at night?

So we had a solution, and we had the information on how to find them, but there was still that pesky problem of delivering one injection into an extremely pissed-off vampire. Hardly the most promising of theraputic settings.

And that’s when we stepped up. Those of us who had once loved the vampire myth, but could no longer take the insipid literature of the new, sexy version of vampire.  We looked at the problem and said, “We will do this terrible job.”

The called us Nosfaradudes.

While the vampires had practical invulnerability to regular weapons, superhuman strength, speed and senses, we had science. We were outfitted with full-body, full-spectrum light emitting suits.  It was tight to the skin, but you couldn’t really tell because of the full-spectrum nodules covering every inch of it.  Even a starving vampire would find it impossible to approach, because daylight would shine from us like miniature, rotund suns.

Many of the Nosfardudes were in it for the adventure. The violence. For me, it was all aesthetics. I needed to make the vampires pay, and not only for the pain they’d physically inflicted on generations of human beings.

For all those sparkly vampires, I would have my revenge.

The End

Enjoy this short satire? How ’bout some in book form?

 

Alltop has humor that doesn’t suck. Great photo by Ross Harmes. Originally published June, 2013.