And it is not ours:
keep it from us lest we
spend it all on fags n beer
then lollop into A&E so we can
clog the hospitals with our drunken bodies
If you let us touch it we will turn your gold
into fat and generations of worklessness:
your morning is not our morning.
Our morning rises like an ashtray,
our morning with its purple bruises
stumbles through the day.

Natalie Shaw

REAL WITCHES

March 17, 2020

In fairy-tales, witches always wear silly black hats and black cloaks, and they ride on broomsticks. But this is not a fairy-tale. This is about REAL WITCHES. The most important thing you should know about REAL WITCHES is this. Listen very carefully. Never forget what is coming next.

Roald Dahl
The Witches

a tantalizing vagueness

March 17, 2020

A poem begins with a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a love sickness. It is never a thought to begin with. It is at its best when it is a tantalizing vagueness. It finds its thought and succeeds; or doesn’t find it and comes to nothing.

Robert Frost
letter to Louis Untermeyer, 1st January 1916

…the same vastness that makes life (on earth) so insignificant by comparison also works in life’s favour. The Earth is so big, something somewhere will survive pretty much anything nature throws at it. And life has plenty of time between events to recover. It can spread back into areas that were devastated, and it can evolve to meet new conditions. The dinosaurs weren’t so lucky when the big asteroid hit 65 million years ago, but mammals came out of that smelling like roses. And the dinosaurs didn’t do all that poorly, actually: We call them birds nowadays.

So what about our current ongoing disaster, global warming?

It’s a blip on the graph.

That’s not to say it’s insignificant. It could lead to mass starvation, wars, and quite possibly the extinction of humanity along with many thousands of other species. But in the grand scheme of life on Earth? It’s a trifle. It could even be a good thing if it gets rid of us, since long before global warming began to bite us we were wiping out species at a rate that rivals the worst extinction events in the history of life on Earth.

For us, though, it will prove vexing. One of the biggest reasons is the energy budget that I mentioned above. Global warming puts more energy into the atmosphere and into the oceans, which means hurricanes can last longer. Even regular rainstorms and snowstorms can last longer. With more energy to work with, they can hold more moisture in suspension and drop more of it on Sheboygan.

John Barnes wrote a novel, Mother of Storms, about a particularly alarming threshold event that we really shouldn’t ignore: Hurricanes typically die when they encounter land, but if they have enough energy they can cross that land and resume their buildup once they hit warm water again. When global warming puts enough heat into the atmosphere and into the oceans, we could see hurricanes that persist for months, swirling all the way around the planet again and again, wreaking more or less continual havoc.

We could see tornadoes wide enough to take out entire cities.

Hailstones the size of baseballs could become common. (Prediction: Parking garage rates will go up.)

We’re already seeing wildfires greater than ever before. And of course there will be flooding. Florida was once a reef. It will become one again.

Jerry Oltion
Science: Natural Disasters in Utopia
Fantasy & Science Fiction March/April 2020

Writers remember everything…especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he’ll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is the ability to remember the story of every scar.

Art consists of the persistence of memory.

Stephen King
Misery

Romantic opium binges and fainting couches are all well and good but kids these days just don’t appreciate the late 19th century occultism aesthetic. Get some ceremonial robes, take up pipe-smoking and radical political views, wave some hyssop branches around and claim to have received revelation from mysterious higher beings. Transliterate your name into a Semitic language or sign all your letters with a mysterious Latin abbreviations; schism from your secret society to form a new, even more secret society! Paint a circle on your wealthy parent’s library floor and summon up spirits of indeterminate origin!

Sarah Taylor Gibson

How to read Gene Wolfe:

1) Trust the text implicitly. The answers are in there.

2) Do not trust the text farther than you can throw it, if that far. It’s tricksy and desperate stuff, and it may go off in your hand at any time.

3) Reread. It’s better the second time. It will be even better the third time. And anyway, the books will subtly reshape themselves while you are away from them. Peace really was a gentle Midwestern memoir the first time I read it. It only became a horror novel on the second or the third reading.

4) There are wolves in there, prowling behind the words. Sometimes they come out in the pages. Sometimes they wait until you close the book. The musky wolf-smell can sometimes be masked by the aromatic scent of rosemary. Understand, these are not today-wolves, slinking grayly in packs through deserted places. These are the dire-wolves of old, huge and solitary wolves that could stand their ground against grizzlies.

5) Reading Gene Wolfe is dangerous work. It’s a knife-throwing act, and like all good knife-throwing acts, you may lose fingers, toes, earlobes or eyes in the process. Gene doesn’t mind. Gene is throwing the knives.

6) Make yourself comfortable. Pour a pot of tea. Hang up a DO NOT DISTURB Sign. Start at Page One.

7) There are two kinds of clever writer. The ones that point out how clever they are, and the ones who see no need to point out how clever they are. Gene Wolfe is of the second kind, and the intelligence is less important than the tale. He is not smart to make you feel stupid. He is smart to make you smart as well.

8) He was there. He saw it happen. He knows whose reflection they saw in the mirror that night.

9) Be willing to learn.

Neil Gaiman
How to read Gene Wolfe