ALONE (short story)

I’m pleased to release a new short story for your reading pleasure on these brief Fall afternoons. What is this story, ALONE, all about?

Two marooned astronauts cope with isolation, existentialism and artificial intelligence in this romantic tragedy.

I’ve been writing on ALONE for nearly a year, picking it up and working feverishly on it, then putting it away for weeks at a time. Finally I decided to let it out into the wild. This germ of this story sprouted from wanting to write something that made the reader (you) feel uncomfortable. I test my protagonist with impossible situations, of being alone and confined while travelling through the infinity of space. What does life mean at that point? What would keep someone alive or cause them to give up hope?

This is a sentiment I’ve often felt — though not while travelling through space where a technical malfunction could mean certain death — but on tour. In a tiny bunk on a tour bus, squished up in a van with 6 other people or on an intercontinental flight for hours on end: each day, every day, for months at a time. On the road, my purpose is constantly tested, patience taken to new heights. On a terrestrial tour, if something goes wrong, it is easily remedied. You pull over and the problem easily solved. But what would you do in space, alone, with limited resources and millions of miles from anything resembling home?

I also tip my hat to CBC’s Canada Writes and their “Sci-Fi Twitter Challenge” — though I’m not exactly sure what that means. I guess this is my long-form contribution to the community. There is sadly no podcast at the moment (as my lengthiest finished story, the MP3 file would be too enormous). For eyeballs only. Happy reading.

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

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!

Book Review and Notes on The Science Fiction

Last night I finally finished reading The Windup Girl. This is the first book I’ve read – honestly – in years, a statistic I am slightly embarrassed to reveal. I used to read way more: reading would inspire me, make my vocabulary better, make me think more analytically. But then I went through a phase of either starting books I couldn’t get in to or just being a too-tired new mom to dedicate the time. So I would get my “intellectual” fix from the pages of The Economist and call it a day.

I’m on a science fiction kick. As a genre it is liberating, allowing for adaptability to style and genre, a realm where ideas propel the language. Often I find other forms of fiction restrictive in this way: where I am easily distracted by an author’s choice of words, language before the ideas. With sci-fi I let it slide: I don’t know why, I just don’t really care if the choice of words isn’t executed with laser-like precision. Maybe I find some sort of sense of satisfaction, newly inspired by my own “not-good-enough-yet-now-good enough” writing style. So now I read the sci-fi and I write it. And now I write about it, in the form of this one-paragraph review:

The Windup Girl: Author Paolo Bacigalupi drops us into a world where calories are the currency. A near-future, dystopian Bangkok that is threatened by rising sea-levels and a “gene-hacked” food supply. Oil is out: energy is kinetic. Disease is manufactured, and people live in a caste-like militarised Kingdom. I won’t lie to you: life in this world sucks for everyone. Though it is a city in delicate balance: each character’s life is under constant threat, comforted by any fleeting moment of stasis. Everybody needs each other – as with any society – needs one and other to complete their job, their task, to ensure survival. It is a beautiful, tropical world that has been created by Mr. Bacigalupi, one that is being coaxed by its characters into a continued existence. As a reader, I got familiar with it, intrigued by it. Then, towards the end, this fragile balance is upset in a major, major way: it is fucking destroyed. So awesome, so satisfying. Loved it. Thank you, sir.

Anyhow, selfishly, this book kind of mind-fucked me. I had begun writing a piece of sci-fi last year before knowing that The Windup Girl even existed. There were several similarities to what I was writing – not a totality, but the thread of food being totally industralised, and the world being at the mercy of some forces of nature, were common to my thing. I suppose those themes probably exist in tons of sci-fi: they are prevalent issues in today’s society, and that is was sci-fi does best: critique/troubleshoot our real world problems.

And so, I’ve convinced myself to finish my short story. It is a story that should belong to something longer, but there is still an independent story in there. I’ll make it available on my Scribd page (which is in it’s infancy, I admit). Follow me and get this first piece of writing as soon as it’s up. I’m giving myself one month – until June 4th, 2011. Everyone who follows me on Scribd before then will be rewarded with an exclusive audiobook/podcast version of the story, read by me!

I guess reading books can still be inspiring…