Thursday 19 April: A Reading!

They spelled my name wrong and everything! I haven’t done a reading in over a decade, so this should be interesting. See you there.

FLASH FICTION (1)

As I was writing this piece of fiction, I was in tears. It was meant to me the culmination of a short story, the tender moment that ends it all. But in the meanwhile, that short story (d)evolved into something longer, into a greater beast. The beast has left my big sappy ending floating, like a piece of paragraphical driftwood, among more meaningful ideas. Solid stuff that is lodged firmly in the sand. 

Though I love the interaction in Flash Fiction (1), it has no place in my fiction-science world. I wondered if — stripped of the deeper character portraits and adventures that were originally behind them — this epic send-off could hold its weight?

I propose to you, then, a piece of “flash fiction” or whatever you’d like to call it (Wikipedia also suggests: sudden fiction, microfiction, micro-story, short short, postcard fiction, short short story). I assure you that I adhere to zero rules of writing (except for common grammar, I hope). Word length? Bah! Story arc? Heave ho! 

So without further ado, I present, Flash Fiction (1) by Natalia Yanchak.

Thing to Read: #DeathToWisdom

As printed in issue Matrix #91: Mixtape.

The fall of modern culture: #DeathToWisdom © 2011-2012 all rights reserved

Matrix Mixtape: An Antithetical Shout Out

Consider picking up a copy of the Winter 2011 edition of Matrix Magazine. A literary mag out of Montreal, this issue was guest edited by Rob Benvie. It includes a piece that I wrote called #DeathToWisdom, which I would describe as a danse macabre with cloud computing. I’ll eventually put it up on the Scribd, but for now will allow the print issue some shelf life.

I would also include a link to the magazine website, but it has been down for weeks. I shall restrain myself from making any editorial comment on this matter.

Lucky Number 13! Also inside: Litpop Winners!

Why?

This month I started an online course in Artificial Intelligence. I also recently met, quite randomly at a bar, a gentleman much more technically minded than myself, who is also taking the course. He asked me recently:

I’m curious, what’s gotten you interested in following this class? Is it your apparent love of scifi, or something else?


To which I replied:

Hmmm….what’s gotten me interested? You realise my answer to this question is going to become a blog post…

Last night I went to see Daniel Clowes and Seth, two comic book illustrators, speak at their joint book launch. My daughter asked me: “Why are you going?” and I had to actually think for a moment: why, indeed? I had one of Daniel Clowes earlier books, and knew little of Seth, yet I was still making an effort to go to this reading. I’m a casual illustrated book reader, hardly hardcore, and then I realised, simply, that I enjoy immersing myself in things I know nothing about.

The most often asked question to me is: “Who is your favourite band/musician?” or “What are you listening to?” And my answer is invariably: “I don’t listen to music.” I don’t. And I don’t mean to sound presumptuous or pretentious or holier-than-thou, but being immersed in the music industry for the past decade has made me a non-believer in music. Only a tiny margin of music is real anymore, the rest are just feeble attempts at fame, fortune, or worse, relevancy. I rarely listen to new music because all I hear is…dishonesty.

But it *would* be pretentious so live a life without culture, so I’ve turned my focus elsewhere. I’ve started reading books again, and writing fiction. And I enjoy these two tasks immensely. As I write, especially, I learn: my choice to write “genre” fiction is no accident. In speculative and science fictions I see open space, pure freedom, a world without restraint. I fold in to my work things I read about technology, computing, medical advances, space exploration and robotics. I feel that in researching this stuff and reading about it, a new frame of mind is being revealed. A fresh perspective of the world spurts forth, a new community of people working and thinking… not to be “cool” but to be, essentially, creative.

I miss that about music, which is why I’ve taken this step in the opposite direction. It doesn’t mean I’m done with being in a band or making records at all. If anything I will only return with resolve and a fervent dedication that should be feared by the entire hipster set.

So….does this answer the question? Kind of. I’m really digging the way my brain is being pulled by being in the ai-class, forced to think pragmatically and logically. Embracing new terminology and honing mathematical and deductive skills. My past will reveal that I was a big nerd. My dad is an electrical engineer. I was in “Gifted” in grade school. I took Computer Science class in grade 11. I took enriched math and wrote nation-wide math competitions. I was never the “cool” kid, and I never felt threatened by the “in” crowd. I made friends from strangers through BBS‘ and the first computer I bought was the first generation clamshell iBook…dare I say…before it was cool. If I hadn’t decided to move to Montreal at the age of 18, I would have been in “New Media” at Ryerson. A technical school. One of my favourite movies OF ALL TIME is Terminator 2.

I guess with this free, online course from a reputable university came up I just said to myself: “Why not?”

Covers

What to do on a rainy Saturday afternoon? Why, design some cover images for my short stories! I just added a new cover for Final Fridays, in anticipation of “publishing” the two other stories I’ve been working on. So, this is kind of a non-post, or a post showing off my non-Photoshop skills. Either way, happy weekend!

Professional Friends

Now that last post is just annoying me. It was a thought I needed to share, but not one that needs to be at the top forever. Yesterday marked the start of the Introduction to Artificial Intelligence class I am taking for free, and online, associated with Stanford University. I’ve been motoring through the videos, enjoying the knowledge. I’ve also been stimulating my brain at the really awesome Khan Academy, where I’ve been learning about various maths (mainly so I don’t feel dumb when learning about AI). Forget Brain Age, this is actual learning without the pressure to achieve any kind of success.

Also: lots of writing. I have two stories on the go right now: one is dark and the other, lighter. I am hoping to share the dark one with you all soon. This morning I devised a suitable ending. Accompanying podcast forthcoming.

I am also psyched, as I launch this psuedo-writing project, that I’ll have a piece of fiction in an upcoming issue of Montreal’s Matrix magazine (details coming). Also check/like my Facebook “Page.” As I tweeted earlier, any attempt to extricate myself from FB’s clutches only drew me in further, resulting in the creation of said Page. Turns out I am pro-friends, as in “professional friends.”

Now Reading

Bought this from a small bookseller in Manchester, UK. About a comet that essentially destroys the Earth. Slow-paced, VERY 70’s. I’m having a love-hate relationship with this book, since it is an epic 600 pages. But I must finish it so I can move on to some J.G. Ballard (who I am dying to read) OR Asimov’s Foundation series.

The First Short Story

Last night I published a short story called Final Fridays <– read it by clicking on the link. It's very short, and also there is a podcast of me reading the story that Murray helped me record. It's my first one (both publicly released fiction and podcast) so there are some kinks to work out on the technical/distribution side. Eentually I'd like to have the podcast be a regular thing everyone could get the RSS feed to, or download through iTunes, etc. I suppose for that, it would be more useful to have more than one "episode."

Because I care, I just now decided to email YOU the link to the podcast if you write to me at: natalia.scifi@gmail.com JUST BECAUSE I CARE. I appreciate the fact that you're reading my blog. (Update: I will NOT spam you.)

And if you still are thirsting for MORE, read the interview I did about this writing project. Although, I was slightly misquoted. Indie-rock sci-fi is supposed to be a “Pitchfork-near-future-DYstopia” not “utopia.” That made the joke not-funny. But that’s not what I’m writing about: I roll my eyes a full 360° at the triteness of the idea.

More to come….now the pressure is on to write!

Have you Subscribed yet?

Tuesday 17 May: The pressure is on to produce something enthralling, tantalizing, a teaser that will leave you wanting more. What am I talking about? The great science fiction writing project, of course! Ok, ok. Not that great. But on Wednesday 1 June I will post (via Scribd) my first piece of publicly available fiction! And if you subscribe to my Scribd page you will be rewarded with a free download of the podcast of ME! reading the story. Let it be known, that it is pretty short, and could be described as “The Office” meets “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” But I’m just sayin’.

So my excuse for not writing here is that I’m writing somewhere else. Also, I was just asked to basically create art for a super cool camera company (details to follow) and since I’m not a visual artist, this makes May the month of reinvention!