Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Archive for the ‘Technopop’ Category

A Brief History of Automatic Fiction

Wednesday, April 11th, 2007

Buenos Aires, dawn; streets quiet. A little cafe on the Calle Magdalena. Languages he doesn’t know — Spanish, English, Russian — conspire at other tables. At his: oversweet frothy coffee and a stained notepad.
He lets the notepad jot.

Automatic Fiction is the most useless of the arts; that’s part of its charm. A cloud of words on the page, caravan of sentences that almost seem to be getting somewhere, then don’t. Paragraph after paragraph absorbs the mind like music on edge of hearing. Forgotten as soon as read, leaving behind only a vague afterimage. Emotional pentimento.

AutoFictioneers rig algorithms to discourse, and they go. Plots unspool and branch. Characters multiply, recombine scene by scene. Detail and dialogue are elaborated by automata run on simple rules over vast numbers of iterations. The machine generates a new tale for every reader, every reading.

Words follow words while he watches pedestrians, trees, traffic.

Student loan venture funds want dividends. He wants to make useless words. In rising economies, the newly comfortable see individuality as status, and want to be and to have what’s unique. Each their own story. In fading economies, midling classes want to stay ahead by keeping up, and want their own stories, too.


Vulture funds want to commodify his elusive and unrepeatable words. They’ve bet he’ll profit them, so he’s gone and will go — Niigata, Des Moines, Buenos Aires, Kinshasa, Adelaide, Urumchi, anywhere that’s somewhere else. Where he can do his work and be useless.

Fund managers, or their subcontractors, approach — his preprogrammed proximity agents sing warning — he snaps the notebook shut and stands to go — and the words are gone.

And so is he.

On the Monorail

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Leave your half-empty, half-cooled styro of coffee as an offering to the Man on the Monorail. He’s said to ride the fluorescent aisles of the metrotran ceaselessly, always seeking — never finding — a platform that isn’t just a transfer point, a destination that isn’t just a place on the way to somewhere else.

Riding, always riding, never to see a landscape that doesn’t have his own Perspex-reflected face layered over it. The mirror-chrome office pylons like tethering posts for clouds. Fields of solar panels stretching away to the horizon like an ocean of gleaming shadow. Immense self-assembled geodesics like jewel-faceted mountains. Always the image of his eye like a moon in a noon-blue sky.

The stories say he lives on stale donuts and cup noodles out of the machines in the back cars of the intercity routes. The stories say the conductors turn a blind eye; the stories say he used to be one of them, still wears the blue coat, stripped of buttons or insignia, still mutters the station names to himself in an endless loop that might be curses, might be prayer.

Out you go, down the stairs, through the streets, away into the crowd, while he rides, settled on the vinyl seat patched with peeling tape, head drowsing against textured aluminum panels etched and markered with signatures and slogans, tags that label the world with names. If he has a name, no one remembers it. The monorail glides, night-silent, through the city skyline, and he rides. He rides, seeking.