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In the beginning…

…the sun wandered the universe alone.

As flaming balls of gas go, he was neither the largest nor the smallest. Neither the oldest nor the youngest, the hottest nor the coolest. He was middling, yellow, ninety percent hydrogen, and lonely. Since his youth he had traveled an outer spiral arm of the galaxy, far from his brothers and sisters and the nursery of his birth. From distant nebulae, the galaxy’s crucible, new stars emerged daily – but not one looked his way.

What would it take, he thought, to get some company around here?

Eons passed.

It wasn’t a single event that changed everything forever. Rather, the random bits and sparkles of space paused in their travels, tugged inward by the sun’s unexceptional but not inconsiderable gravity. Bit by bit they converged. A sprinkling became a handful, an aggregation became a clump and then – not all at once but imperceptibly as the turning of the universe itself – accretion began.

The sun rejoiced. Broad discs of matter surrounded him now, shining prettily in his light. In broad swathes they drew inward, each upon itself. Slowly they grew, becoming solid, round, gaining mass and little gravities all their own. Some even cultivated moons. Proud Grandpa Sun beamed more brightly than ever.

Each world also developed a unique personality. Peppy Mercury zipped around his orbit on winged sandals, blazing hot and glacial all at once. Reclusive Venus obscured her face with impenetrable clouds. The outer orbs, the gas giants, held themselves aloof beyond their asteroid wall, Mars their brother standing stoic guard inside.

From her earliest days the Earth knew she was special. Of all her siblings only she could gather liquid water to her surface. Only she could boast green growing things, creatures great and small that clambered over her varied crust. Only she shared her orbit with a single large moon, a partner tugging with her modest gravity to keep Earth’s face new and fresh. Only she had something more than rocks to share.

“What’s this?” said Venus, crushing a tiny contraption of metal and electrics to dust.

“A gift,” said the Earth, shielding hurt feelings from her grumpy sister. “My people want to know you better.”

“Hmph,” said Venus, smashing three more.

“Luna loves hers,” said the Earth. Her little friend beamed, showing off her souvenirs: craters, lumps of metal, a tiny splash of color across her achromic surface.

“Hmph,” said Venus again, but she let the next one land.

“Can I try?” called Mars from his backdrop of tumbling stone. “Whee!”

Soon, all of Earth’s brothers and sisters had received a visitor. The asteroids and a wandering comet were not left out. Pluto, too, the brightest of the outer worlds, smiled as his brief guest hurtled by. Even the Sun felt the glow of admiring mechanical eyes.

Then one day, one of the gifts escaped. Voyager traveled boldly into the unknown. Her sister had fallen behind, and after so many long years she no longer possessed the strength to send a simple message. She had seen so many wonders, so many worlds alien to her birthplace, but now she was on to something greater. The sun’s gravity, unexceptional but not inconsiderable, began to fade behind her. Soon, any moment now, she would be free.

Since that day, the gaze of the Universe has turned. The sun and his children no longer wander alone.

Thankful

Pretty leaves falling

Sound of rain on a good roof

High quality wine

Nano fail

More than halfway through the month and I haven’t posted about NaNoWriMo!

Obviously I’m not participating this year. Not only has my personal life been hectic (travel, sister’s wedding) but I’m in the midst of editing the latest version of The Way. This story has been in mental residence for close to 5 years now; if there’s a chance I can finish it and get it right, I’m not going to let myself get distracted.

That doesn’t mean you can’t. Prior Nano projects Dreamscapes and His Brother’s Keeper are only $0.99 for the next 30 days – through December 16 – with coupon codes below. And just for fun, Counter Clockwise is free.

Enjoy!

Dreamscapes, 2011 Nano winner: DT42V

His Brother’s Keeper, 2013 Nano participant: CB83L

Counter Clockwise: LF76F

Luminescence

Drifting wisps of cloud

Waning gibbous supermoon

River’s ripples shine.

img_0746

Save

Contrast

Rainy Saturday

Rainbow over my bus stop

Blazing eastern sky

Texture

Wisps of fog drifting
caress the downy hills.
The river shines silver
in the autumn dawn.

Between them, the city
concrete lumps shrouded in smog
holds its wintry cloak close
against the day.

Conundrum update

A while ago I was considering participating in an anthology for charity. My sister provided original art for their first volume, and money raised selling the book went to a group supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence. Volume 2 called for origin stories: old religions told newly, entirely new ones invented, character origins, however writers chose to interpret the phrase, “In the beginning…”

Intrigued by the concept, I quickly produced a story which my writers’ group described as “Just So Stories meets OMNI Magazine.” It’s fun and cute, and also brief at 500 words – too brief, as it turned out, for the anthology has a 2000-word minimum. I sent a message asking if the minimum was firm.

While waiting for a reply, I began to have second thoughts about my submission. I hadn’t read Volume 1; what if the editors had no taste, and my story ended up collected with a bunch of clunkers? They also hadn’t (still haven’t) selected a charity. What if they chose one I could not support? I considered sending the story off to a pay magazine. Mostly, though, I did nothing.

Finally, word came back that the minimum was firm. The editors offered to help me “expand” my story. No thanks, I thought; not going to mess with a good thing. I turned back to the pay magazines – only to find that every single one was closed to submissions.

More nothing. Then F&SF opened last month. I dawdled and postponed. I really wanted to submit to Uncanny Magazine, a new-ish publication specializing in new ideas and new writers not getting seen by the mainstream. I supported them on Kickstarter in their first year and have loved the result. But they remained closed. So I did nothing, intending to send the story off to F&SF and yet not doing it.

Then, today – mere days after I signed up to support the magazine’s Year 3 – Uncanny Magazine opened to unsolicited submissions. I flew to the web page, ready to roll.

And encountered their 750-word minimum.

Fine. F&SF it is.