Saturday, August 29, 2009

REAL : Regarding Arts & Letters

Dr. Butterworth-McDermott notified me last night that Stephen F. Austin State University's prestigious journal--REAL : Regarding Arts & Letters--has accepted two of my poems--"Quebec 1608" and "August 13, 1961"--for publication.

I wrote these two poems while on a hiking trip on Vancouver Island this summer and they mark a Swinburnian/Heidegger-like shift in my poetic consciousness.

Thank you, Dr. Butterworth-McDermott.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Editor's Choice for "Cave Gossip"

I was just notified that I have received the editor's choice designation at iuniverse for the third time for my novel, "Cave Gossip." I want to thank my editors at iuniverse and especially George Nedeff for their invaluable help in producing the books.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Moxyland by Lauren Beukes

While reading "Moxyland," Lauren Beukes' dystopian fantasy, published by Angry Robot, I kept asking myself, where are the "parents," the serious people who will take charge and protect these four dysfunctional children; and, therein, I think, lies the rub or at least the theme of the work. The four protagonists, who tell the story in alternating first person segments, are children without supervision in the literal and figurative sense; they are orphans, cut off, without father and mother.

Oh, don't misunderstand me, they have supervision all right, in spades, dealt to them electronically by some disembodied corporation that employs them as consumer fodder; however, in truth they are castaways in a world where the "virtual" and the "real" have converged and melded. They are children, like those of Golding's "Lord of the Flies," left to their own devices or the vagaries of fate within a virtual universe controlled by an unseen hand.

In thinking about the book over the last week, I have concluded that "Moxyland" can be read as a prequel to "Brave New World" or "1984." High praise indeed, I whisper, and yet I think the work deserves it. In that regard, I would not place the book in the science fiction section of my local Borders; instead, I would set it near Huxley and Orwell or maybe next to Sartre's "Nausea" or Camus' "The Plague."

Are you crazy, you might ask. Have you lost your mind? I don't think so but if you insist it is science fiction, then I must conclude that the book is really a book of ideas like John Brunner's "Stand on Zanzibar" or Harry Harrison's "Make Room Make Room." Nevertheless, even here I have trouble, because Beukes' book is more grounded in the here and now and consequently does not amaze as much as Brunner and Harrison; but, instead, warns and points at a near future, almost on our doorstep, that we should take heed of (even though we might be helpless to stop it).

In a nutshell, "Moxyland" involves four protagonists, who tell their stories in the first person. They live in Capetown, South Africa, approximately ten years from today; and, although apartheid is not mentioned, its effects seem obvious.

The protagonists are: Kendra, a young photographer; Tendeka, an activist and would-be terrorist; Lerato, a corporate employee and computer programmer; and Toby, a rich kid, working on his master degree in literature at the local University. Each one is connected to the virtual world and tangentially to each other. However, each one is disconnected from family and friends. Instead, they inhabit the virtual universe, where avatars could hide a fourteen year old or a corporate boss.

As I said above, they are orphans in both literal and literary sense. For instance, Toby's mother cuts off his stipend and he is forced to make money as a "gonzo" reporter; Lerato is an aids baby, raised in an orphanage as a ward of a multi-national corporation.

Beukes sets the four off on a collision course, which ends in disaster for some of the participants.

One of the most telling images in the book is a self-portrait done by Kendra. It is a photograph of herself. Because she uses old, analog equipment and antiquated film stock, the image is black--not blank, black. An interesting image, especially, when the author tells the story in the first person. Here the "cogito" fails; the "I" of the persona refuses to reflect the vision of the constructed other. In other words, no images come to the viewer to instruct or inform the viewer. Isn't that a bit like the avatar of the other in a computer game?

In that regard, another major theme of the novel is the way that the virtual is bleeding into the real. Toby plays various games in which, through his first-person-narration we are not sure if he is in a game or in life. The reader has difficulty determining what is real and what is not and eventually so does Toby.

As the virtual seeps in and absorbs the real, human beings become consuming fodder and living advertisements for certain global products. Within this context, the orphan, un-weaned from the real mother, continues to imbibe the corporate milk, which results in addiction and infantilism.

As I said at the beginning I think "Moxyland" can be read as a prequel to "1984" or "Brave New World." If we project the story line into the future and I think the book invites it; either, a fascistic Big Brother will arise, probably a virtual one, like the Wizard of Oz, or an unseen manipulative hand will continue to control and manipulate as in the Huxley novel.

In conclusion, the novel is a book of ideas; well written, edgy, and prescient.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

C v.N

in shell
the snail
sees not

of cracked
and knows

silver slime
with sun
and tells

to us
who think

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


the nesting

as a seed

that fell
into a seam

and grew
so rational

that its unreasonable
origin now seems

a gnostic dream.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Defensible Knowledge

what god
worships you

does it shield you
from the darkness

does it evolve
and grow

what language
does it utter

when the wind
rustles the needles

of the ponderosa

Knowledgeable Defense

what shield
from darkness

dare you
drop it

and call
the creatures
that corpse

of nothingness

that enwraps you

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


we descend
father and son
to the center

our iron picks
sparking rock
as we strike
red rock

our blushing


and we
are one

at last