March 2016 Yanty’s Butterfly @AlinaMeridon

March has been a good month, not least because of an excuse to eat dark chocolate and Easter eggs…

Haiku Nook Anthology Yanty's Butterfly

Major news this month is the official release of Yanty’s Butterfly: “Yanty’s Butterfly consists of over 600 poems, spanning the variety of haiku forms: three-line haiku, two-line haiku, one-line haiku, four-line haiku, traditional haiku (5-7-5), concrete haiku, tanka, and haibun. Featuring haiku from Yanty Tjiam, George Klacsanzky, Fei Zhan, and award-winning poet, Alan Summers, Yanty’s Butterfly is an essential addition to the haiku literature of the 21st century.”

Yanty’s Butterfly is an anthology put together by members of the Haiku Nook Google community to commemorate Yanty Tjiam, who passed away last year. Yanty wrote beautiful haiku and her death affected us deeply. The anthology includes some of her poems, and is dedicated to her. Proceeds will be donated to Yanty’s family and to the charities ActionAid and The Hunger Project.

My upcoming novelette, I Like It Hard, continues its creeping progress through the publication engine. Still no sign of a cover, but this month I received the line editor’s comments. Most were minor, such as disagreements over the need for a comma here or there – I suspect no two editors will agree completely over commas – but there was one interesting point. During the story, there is mention in several places of a ‘man in a headset’. Now, while writing originally, I was thinking of this ‘person’ as being generic, anonymous, probably even several people defined by a specific role. But the reader doesn’t quite get that impression, and that has bothered me a little for a few months. The editor picked up on this point too, so I have amalgamated these ‘men in headsets’ into a single named character.

alexis in heels
walking into the future
from a thoughtless past

imagine a thought
where no thought has ever passed
and be reverent

the first face we see
is the face that teaches us
the truth of beauty

As for my science fiction novelette Alexis 5-1-8, which has been rejected now by one publisher and simply ignored by another, I have finally found the enthusiasm to try again. (‘Third time lucky,’ he mutters, blood from the sacrificial goat pouring into a clay vessel as the smell of burning barley fills the air of the temple. ‘Third time lucky…’) For now, here is a trio of haiku inspired by Alexis.

In connection with this, Discover Magazine’s Jeremy Hsu reports in What Women and Men Want from Sex Robots that “both women and men generally agreed that using sex robots was more appropriate than hiring a human prostitute.” Also, take a look at this fantastic video:

Dark side of the Moon with the Earth behind, both in crescent form

See the dark side of the Moon, looking towards the Earth…

Supergirl

A few more Supergirl poems this month, including one that’s really just about Mistress X.

even in disguise
her feet never touch the earth
memory holds her

Kara eats Baci
‘Can I have a kiss?’ Cat asks
and gets more than one

For two of these I was experimenting with a new structure in which every line has nine syllables and sequential pairs of lines rhyme. It resists any rhythm, but also reads comfortably in four-line stanzas, and the resulting mood is a little unsettling – which works well for poems with a darker theme, such as horror or despair.

Cover of Codename Night Witch in The Girls from Alcyone by Cary Caffrey

Posts

Advertisements

Suzie and the Monsters

It is now almost exactly four years since Suzie met Cleo in a London nightclub, and to mark that anniversary I have, this week, dropped the price of Suzie and the Monsters – a fairytale of blood, sex and inhumanity… – which, if nothing else, gives me a great excuse to talk about Suzie and her novel.

Suzie and the Monsters started as an attempt at vampire erotica while stuck bored in a hotel room in March, 2012. I expected to give up very quickly. I have, over the years, spent altogether too much time thinking about vampires, and sometimes I feel like a grumpy old man complaining about all these newfangled inventions, but I’m not really. It’s true that I’m a lot more flexible in my enjoyment of vampires in film and television, but even there I want the vampires to be more than blood-drinking zombies. I’ve watched and enjoyed some extremely low-budget nonsense over the years, while glossier stuff can be tedious.

It was impossible for me to write a vampire story and not take it seriously. What I wanted was a female vampire who didn’t have amazing superhuman powers because I genuinely believe that the more powerful the vampire the less human (and less interesting) the character. Also, I wanted her to drink blood from the source – and not rely on blood substitutes! And not have an urban fantasy environment providing a whole service industry to take care of all the day-to-day details of paranormality.

Suzie is a vampire, one who is all alone and without great superpowers. She looks human but isn’t, but nor is she a walking corpse (or shade) with an illusory humanity. She drinks wine and tea, although they’re no substitute for what she really needs. She loves the smell of coffee, enjoys curling up with a good book, finds happiness through dance, and has a large collection of films and music…

When I was growing up, vampires were always dangerous, bloody and sexy, at once wonderful and terrifying. There was, of course, a huge amount of sexploitation influencing that, and vampire stories have always been littered with negative tropes, predictable clichés, absurd plots and entirely unnecessary sex. The past twenty years have seen the urban fantasy and romance genres give birth to paranormal romance in which valiant heroes are no longer merely handsome and rich but also imbued with phenomenal supernatural powers. As escapism, it’s all harmless fun – or mostly harmless, anyway – but as story it’s utterly disconnected from reality.

I have always been drawn to stories of vampires and assassins – especially, but not exclusively, female vampires and assassins – and the common theme is a hero who is also a killer. In a world of black and white / dark and light / good and evil, the vampire and the assassin must be both. But whereas an assassin can step into the light, the vampire can never escape the dark. Worse, the vampire is immortal, and the struggle to resist the dark has no end.

‘My husband liked to make me kill, and I don’t think a month went by without a life taken. I quickly lost count. Forty years? Could easily have been five hundred people, mostly young women, sacrificed for my lust.

‘Travelling around sixteenth century Europe may sound romantic, but mostly all I can remember now is blood, death and hatred. Later on, free from my husband, the killing didn’t stop, but it was killing for self-defence, or for food, or vengeance. There was always a reason for it. I made a determined effort not to kill unnecessarily, but…’

I shrug. ‘Thousands have died at my hands. What right do I have to judge human predators? What right do I have to exist?’

How much blood must a vampire take before the light is forever out of reach? How many lives must be taken? How many crimes must be committed against humanity, before the vampire passes beyond forgiveness?

Suzie and the Monsters poses this question. Suzie may well be beyond forgiveness, though she aches for it. But all the suffering she has caused, and all the suffering she has endured, are nothing compared to the suffering she has witnessed – suffering inflicted by humans on humans. And sometimes it takes one monster to kill another…

Curious about Suzie? Click here.

February 2016 Romance and Aromance @AlinaMeridon

It’s February again, and romance is in the air – and aromance is in the ir, because hot on the heels of the compulsory happiness that is Valentine’s Day is Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week. And how better to celebrate than with a romantic poe– Er, than with aromantic poetry…

banish the sunset!
aromance is in the ir-
idescent twilight

Apart from the usual dolly mixture of haiku, it has been a quiet month over on Alina Meridon. There are two short poems with an aromantic theme, and a short poem about Supergirl – which isn’t romantic or aromantic, but if you’d like an aromantic Supergirl, here’s one I wrote earlier: An unsought kiss

Her life of aromantic bliss
Was shattered by an unsought kiss
The gloss of fuchsia kryptonite
Instilled confusion and delight
That lessened slowly over years
The poison washed out by her tears

Pink kryptonite turns Superman gay.Coincidentally, pink kryptonite was used once, in a satirical way, to make Superman gay – although Superman and Batman do seem to have an enemies-to-lovers thing going on (or did I imagine that?) so maybe Superman’s bisexual (or just bi-for-the-bat? is that a real thing? after all, Supergirl and Batgirl – ‘SuperBat’? – get together so often it’s practically canon). Er, anyway…

On the subject of Supergirl, this month I have been watching, over and over, this video by Heroesaz. It’s a cool video, but it’s the voice of Connie Lim that makes it so compelling.

Supergirl and Cat Grant video set to Connie Lim singing AngelsConnie Lim singing Angels

Seeking Krypton

Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson explains how he helped Superman find his home planet of KryptonDuring a roundtable discussion with journalists, Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson explains how he helped Superman find his home planet of Krypton. Tyson appears as a character in the recent DC Comics’ ACTION COMICS #14, “Star Light, Star Bright.” In real life, he consulted a star index and found a real star that supported the backstory of the comic.

It’s unfortunate that parallax measurements of LHS 2520 indicate a distance of 42 light years rather than the 27 light years estimated from photometric estimates that, presumably, Tyson’s maps were based on. Although you could argue that the superluminal journey took 17 years, during which Kal El aged only two years, as a consequence of relativistic effects associated with acceleration up to and beyond light speed.

The same argument could be applied even if Krypton is ‘thousands of light years away’ or even in another galaxy, although I don’t think the journey is supposed to take so long – if it did, all those stories of returning to Krypton would make little sense.

Sense8 & Deadpool

I watched Season 1 of the Wachowski’s Sense8 on Netflix. The diversity of the cast, characters and story is amazing. In fact, it’s so aggressively diverse it feels like a political statement – but it’s the kind of statement that needs to be made, and once you get past that there’s a thrilling story being told. There are eight primary characters whose minds are linked telepathically. Four are men (one in a gay relationship), four are women (one of whom is a trans woman in an interracial lesbian relationship). The story is set in the U.S., the U.K., Mexico, India, Korea, Kenya, Germany and Iceland, and very often a character in one part of the world is interacting with another character in another part of the world, and the cinematography realises all this brilliantly.

Scenes from Sense8

Sun Bak (Doona Bae), Korean businesswoman and kick-ass fighter, in Seoul, Nairobi and San Francisco.

Sense8 has its faults – what doesn’t these days? – but it’s fun, sexy, romantic and dramatic, AND it has the wonderful Freema Agyeman, who never really got what she deserved as Dr Martha Jones on Dr Who, in a brilliant supporting role.

Ryan Reynolds and Morena Maccarin in Deadpool.Finally, still on subject of fun, sexy, romantic, dramatic and wonderfully diverse, with a definite emphasis on the fun, is Deadpool with Ryan Reynolds and Morena Baccarin. A perfect movie for Valentine’s Day.

Posts