Saturday, May 24, 2008

Random Stuff

1. Bragging Contest

Thus far 2008 has been good to me, both personally and professionally. More so than its predecessors and when life is good I tend to do what I've always done, buy and read books. My wife and I have spent several weekends scouring the closest cities for bookshops--and I live in the West so sizable cities are few and far between; Las Vegas is the closest large city and it's six hours by car. I haven't been that far afield, but I've found some cool stuff a little closer to home.

A month ago we went to the small college town of Logan, Utah where we visited three bookshops: a Hastings, a small independent used shop called Books of Yesterday--it has a terrific selection of used and out-of-print paperbacks--and a small paperback exchange. I loaded up. I found a first edition paperback of David Morrell's First Blood, an old Harry Arnston novel titled The Third Illusion, the hardcover edition of Midnight's Lair by Richard Laymon, and a terrifically preserved hardcover of Ed Gorman's Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? And that's only a few of them.

Then last night we visited a local thrift shop and I found several old Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines from the early-to-mid 1980s. They contain original stories by writer's like Edward D. Hoch, James Powell, and Joe Gores--I read his short story "File #9: Full Moon Madness" this morning and was intrigued by both the style and, for a short story, large cast of characters that he was able to trim into eight coherent pages. And it was pretty good at that. There were also a couple stories by bestsellers Ray Bradbury--"The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone"--and Frederick Forsyth's "There are No Snakes in Ireland." I can't wait to dig into these for several reasons, but the most important is the 1980s was when I discovered the wonder of story-telling and the stories and styles of that decade hold a special place in my personal canon of literature.

2. A Note About Coolness

I've also discovered a cool essay online. It's by novelist Stephen Mertz and called "In Defense of Carrol John Daly." It's an aptly and literate defense of Daly's influence in the world of hardboiled detective fiction. I'm no expert, or even an informed layman, but this essay really made me want to learn more about both Daly and early hardboiled stuff. Go Here to read it.

3. Post-apocalyptic Fiction

I've always been a fan of post-apocalyptic fiction; I loved Stephen King's The Stand, devoured Cormac McCarthy's The Road, but there really hasn't been anything that captured my imagination like William F. Nolan's short story "The Small World of Lewis Stillman." Well, that might be an exaggeration, but....

The point? I need more post-apocalyptic titles, both novels and short stories. I'm specifically thinking about short works from 1940s, 50s, and 60s science fiction writers, but really I'm up for anything. Are there any favorites out there? Please clue me in; either send an email or better yet post a comment. And maybe include a film or two. And thanks, too.


dan said...

I am working on a new postmodern post apoca fiction piece about glboal warming, may i send the blog link to you?


email me at danbloom GMAIL and i will send link to you

dan said...

dan said...

Polar City Red: Fragments of a Story Interrupted


A Fragment of a Short Story Interrupted: Year 2516 A.D.

(c) 2008-3008

It has been a long ten years here at Polar City Red in Fairbanks and I am glad I made it here in time. I have a lot to be thankful for, despite the dire straits dear humanity seems to have found itself in.

How did it come to this? We are still trying to connect the dots, to understand...

I heard that many people did not make to any of the existing polar cities on Earth, and that millions, perhaps billions perished. Oh dear God, dear God, the terror!

From what I understand the Universal GlobalGovernment now administers 50 polar cities in the north, and there isword that there are a few in the extreme south, too, but we lostcontact long ago. Each SPR, as we call them, for "sustainablepopulation retreat", has about 10,000 residents, young and old,butmostly young and middle aged, as we must allow the old people to dienatural deaths without medical assistance to prolong their lives. Wecannot afford to use the precious warehouses of food that we have tofeed the old and the sick. It is best to let them die, but we takepains to make their passing as painless as possible. Yes, it'shorrible, but we must survive. This is the only way that we know now.

We have locally grown food here and medical services, schools for the children, a library of sorts, a picture and photo center, and lots of boredom. I mean, how many ways can you spell b o r e d o m? Backwards, moderob, forwards, a few amusing anagrams, there are just seven letters you know. This is a bit what life is like here at Polar City Red. There just isn't very much to do. Our main mission is to survive, breed, prepare for the eventual return down south. But nobody has any idea when that will be, if ever.

Still, believe me, I'm not complaining. I'm glad to be alive, I am sure we all are, to have survived the great cull. Some wags are calling The Great Cull with capital letters for each word, as if it was some pre-ordained cosmic event. I don't know, I don't know. Of course, it wasn't. It was just fate -- "fate working overtime", as my father used to tell me.

Dad's gone now. Mom, too, We don't live a long time here, and anyone who makes it to 50 is considered elderly. We just can't afford to keep everyone alive. Things are different now. We have had to learn to play by different rules, different mores.
So many things have happened here in the last 10 years that I hardly know where to begin. First of all, I got married, to a beautiful Inuit girl, Iris Waputik, of the few surviving Inuits, as far as anyone can tell, Iris included. And Iris and I now have three children, our own little brood -- Jace, Rennard and Kobo. Our gifts to the future. If there is a future. You know, if there's one thing that we've learned in the last ten years it's that there is a future, there must be a future, we must live for that future, and yet, in my introspective moments, in my private time, I often wonder if there really will be a future very far on down the road. It's really not easy being here.

But it's true, as our teachers told us and still tell us, we must believe in the future, against all the odds, because -- because without a future, nothing makes much sense anymore. We've lost so much. An entire global civilization crumbled. An entire world went mad. It's not something I want to dwell on in this report, so I won't. But I just want whoever is reading this report, where ever, when ever, I just want you to know that those of us who are called survivors now, we are grateful. We are grateful to be alive, to be carriers of the next generation, of being the caretakers of humanity.

I guess there are about 200,000 of us, maybe 500,000, scattered across these polar cities. There's no real census and communication with most of the other polar cities is chaotic at times. But those of us who made it this far, yes, we are indeed grateful. I think you could call it a community feeling. In fact, gratitude and acts of gratitude have become a large part of our lives here.
But I can't even begin to tell you the truth. It's not a pretty picture. The old world we hear about in stories seems to be a thing of a past we cannot comprehend.


Sometimes at night, I find myself talking to myself, while my wife and the child are asleep in the room. What do I say? Here:

How did it come to this?
I honestly don't know.
Was it the CO2, the coal, what?
I have no idea.
Maybe it was peak oil.
So many things went wrong.
Some many people were in denial.
They didn't know what hit them.
They weren't ready.
Nobody helped them to get ready.
There was no way to know.
I'm still not sure what hit us.
Who knew? Who knows?
I'm banking on hope. I remain hopeful.
For what? It's an impossible future now.
I think we can undo what we've done.
I'm still thinking about it.
Are you?
Yes, I am.
Keep thinking.
I am.
I will.
Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
Hope is that things with wings.
Emily Dickinson.
Who was that?
A poet.
When? Where?
Long ago.
In another place.
Before polar cities?
Before this, yes.