Gray World

Cover for 'Gray World: Stealing Fire'

This is a separately published, Celtic-themed science fiction novella. It is inspired by two dreams I had, the first one coming complete with the title The Fabulous Gray World of Vagabond, and featuring a visceral, very vivid science fiction noire atmosphere, centred in an ‘orbital world’. The other dream depicted a kind of far future ‘bard’, an antihero of sorts being challenged to help alleviate ‘the language famine’ plaguing a science fiction ‘orbital’ culture. I have ended up incorporating elements of Irish-Scottish mythic history.

Gray World: Stealing Fire is available for purchase here: http://www.whitecatpublications.com/products-page/scifi/ and here: http://www.amazon.com/Gray-World-Stealing-Fire-ebook/dp/B008A7W5OY

But unfortunately, I am seeking another publisher for this book. Although my science fiction book, Gray World: Stealing Fire is available for sale at White Cat Publications, and is available as an ebook on Amazon through Sam’s Dot (its former publisher that was bought by White Cat), like its other writers I have been receiving no communication from this publisher and for various reasons am convinced they are no longer a viable entity. I own the copyright to Gray World as it was not  transferred to White Cat in the changeover. I can be contacted here if you are interested: silexv@gmail.com

I truly hope that this very complex society that has been created is not just to be used in this novella as it is an intriguing one. I enjoyed “Gray World: Stealing Fire” and read it at a single sitting. Well written and different.”
–Gail Jamieson, Probe Magazine (from a review of the Sam’s Dot release of the book)

Here is the blurb that appears on the back of the book:

Gray World: Stealing Fire

In the far future a fusion of meditative practices, magic/witchcraft, and quantum physics has developed into a new craft called waveseership, practiced by waveseers, who dreamfold waves flowing in quantavium light, thereby shaping the form of outer events.

A majority of the affluent has taken refuge in vast orbital cities, powered by energy culled from massive mining of planetary resources.  This mining has led to planets rapidly entering an uninhabitable super-storm condition colloquially known as becoming a ‘gray world’.

In Westpoint, New Skye, on the dying hope of planet Skaha, a drunken Vagabond is lying unconscious in a park. Once a renowned waveseer, Vagabond has fallen to the depths, knows firsthand, as a failed hypocrite, the full range of human hypocrisy.

Sky, true warrior daughter of Skaha, embraces and knights Vagabond for exactly his convoluted, compromised virtues. In the silence of his eyes Sky finds solace from the murder in her heart. In his waveseer skill Sky finds Vagabond is also a worthy ally in espionage.

Together they must decide whether to trust an alien client who would charge them with stealing a most unusual, mathematical fire, and perhaps thereby honor the memory of a dead, gray world.

Kendra Thornton Guest Post

Yoga enthusiast Kendra Thornton has requested to post as a guest on my blog, on the theme of Thanksgiving. I am actually located in Canada and Thanksgiving is past, but it is still a theme that is current at any time, and of course in Canada we can relate to her discussion of pilgrims facing hard times, where part of that had to do, also in Nova Scotia, with pilgrims swallowing their pride and asking for help from the natives—that they provided that help is something to be grateful for.

Recently a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook, to a video by the head of the Halifax (and of the Shambhala international) Buddhist community, Sakyong Mipham, son of its founder, Chogyam Trungpa. The brief talk also addresses ‘Thanksgiving’/appreciation. I find it to be an unusually pithy and gentle presentation of Buddhism in keeping with that sense of gratitude or appreciation, by someone who understands the western mind from having grown up in the west, and yet who is thoroughly educated in the Tibetan Buddhist ways, so I am including the link here, after which Kendra’s article follows: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnzAUZM8w-o

Prayer Hands

Life Lessons from the Pilgrims and Yoga

Every year, I look forward to Thanksgiving because this holiday represents all of the ideas that I hold close to my heart. While everyone begins to think about giving back to others while being thankful for what they have, I always think of how much my family and friends play a role in my health and happiness. Yoga also contributes to my well-being, and that is why these two things are so connected in my thoughts this time of year.

While Thanksgiving is a time for bringing together the community and a sense of sharing, yoga is also about finding greater awareness within the body while appreciating one’s self. For this reason, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what I have learned from both yoga and the Pilgrims.

1. Maintaining Strength in Your Faith: When the Pilgrims came to America, they left everything behind so they could establish and enjoy the freedom to practice their religious beliefs. When I practice yoga, I also am reminded of my ability to stay strong and true to myself. Life can get hectic as a busy mom of three kids; however, all of the stress melts away when I stay strong in my faith and find myself while practicing yoga.

2. Be Willing to Travel to Find Freedom: The Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower with uncertainty regarding what events the rest of their voyage may bring. However, 102 passengers were willing to take a chance of choppy waters just for the chance to enjoy freedom. During my former career with Orbitz, I have always enjoyed traveling. I also learned that no matter where I stay, I could take my yoga practice with me as well. Once while I was in Orlando, I was able to join the hotel’s complimentary yoga class that took place on their rooftop at sunrise – it was incredible!

3. Conquer Fear: The Pilgrim’s first winter here was devastating. With harsh cold and little food and water, many of the first explorers succumbed to death and illness. Yoga is all about-facing your challenges head-on. When I first started yoga, I had my own fears regarding my ability to learn new poses because I was afraid of injuries. Learning how to listen to my body and trust my abilities through practice has led to much personal growth.

4. Learning through Community: Upon setting up their colony, it was the natives who first taught the Pilgrims how to survive in the new land by catching fish, planting crops and hunting for animals such as beaver so they could have enough to eat. I love my yoga classes where I can learn from other people who also recognize the importance of yoga for gaining peace and self-understanding. Every time I attend a class, I learn something new that I can share with others.

5. Thankfulness: In 1621, the Pilgrims sat down with the Pokanokets to express gratitude for survival during the first Thanksgiving dinner. The lessons in gratitude I learn are not left behind on the mat after class. Instead, I carry thoughts of gratitude with me as I interact with my family and friends. For me, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to celebrate the feelings of thankfulness and community that I enjoy all year through my yoga practice.
What special feelings do you have about Thanksgiving and yoga?

Kendra Thornton

Transfer Wins Post Production Award

Chris Spencer-Lowe has won an award that is directed toward post production costs for his film Transfer, which I co-wrote and continue to work on with him:

http://thechronicleherald.ca/artslife/1155530-ns-filmmakers-honoured-with-joy-awards

Yoga Energetics

My teacher and friend Sensei Yula and his partner Becca Mukti have released another book, a practice text called Yoga Energetics:

http://www.centrefortheways.com/Yogaenergeticsasanalternative.html?utm_source=Centre+for+the+Ways+eBook+Announcement+Newsletter&utm_campaign=9266576071-Yoga+Energetics+eBook&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b237366e82-9266576071-%5BLIST_EMAIL_ID%5D&ct=t%28Tao_Eating_Zen_Digesting4_6_2013%29&gooal=eyJjaWQiOiI5MjY2NTc2MDcxIiwidGFnIjoiVGFvX0VhdGluZ19aZW5fRGlnZXN0aW5nNF82XzIwMTMiLCJ1aWQiOiI3Y2VhY2FjN2E1YWRkMmZkYzE5ZjY2ODAzIn0%3D|c2ltb252QGVhc3RsaW5rLmNh&mc_cid=9266576071&mc_eid=%5BUNIQID%5D

The Infinite Living Room: Two Views of a Secret

Here is a chapter from my novel, The Infinite Living Room. I am currently seeking a publisher for this book

The Infinite Living Room is written in the style of magical realism, deals more directly with themes I have been exploring on this blog in posts like Bus Yoga, and Felt Sense and Nonsense, in the form of a psychological mystery characterized by frequent dips into the waters of dreamtime.

First, as a lead in, here is an idea of what would appear on the back of the book:

Gradually, half with the willingness of a daring explorer, and half with all-too-human terror, Martin Saxon finds his simple life expanding into an infinite living room.

What begins for writer Martin Saxon as a routine trip to give a lecture at a university flowers into a quest of such intensity that it splits open his psyche into bizarre, and by times violently competing approaches to that quest.

These approaches manifest in the form of three fantastical agents, who blur the lines between dream and reality.

Did he hire them, as they claim? If so, why? And why can’t he remember doing so?

These agents take as their debating platform and battleground the dreamscape city of Quantavium, into which Martin finds himself slipping while sleeping, and increasingly, while awake.

Is Martin going mad? Or is he experiencing some vaudevillian form of Zen illumination?

Chapter Eleven

Two Views of a Secret

Martin’s dream journal:

Fred and I were shown into a sort of heaven that didn’t seem right: It was too cutesy and typical, with friendly (heavenly) but disappointingly stereotypical angels and such flying around, in a swirl of pinks and reds. So we turned back to try again. A mysterious woman, a sort of secret agent (J. P. Infinity?), who apparently had led us to the first heaven or dimension, created another doorway for Fred and I to go through.

This time we entered a sort of bus or train terminal with people standing around (broad spaces, high ceilings, lit with bright sunlight coming in through narrow windows and open doors). We left quickly—it was an uncomfortable, threateningly ‘official’ place—and began walking across a field, through the town.

It was an alternate, utopian or dystopian world—It wasn’t clear which. But I saw a clear vision of a city bus going by. On its side, written in big letters, were the words ‘Transit Vace.’ I immediately inferred from this that their language was altered but still similar to mine.

Then at a bus stop we were standing around with a group of people on a muddy, trash-covered curb. Suddenly an environmental policeman pulled up to the curb in a sci-fi van. He assigned particular people to various trash disposal duties. It was illegal to disobey. The chosen people piled up trash and sprayed it with a special super glue that made the piles solid, then they threw all the solidified piles into the policeman’s specially equipped disposal van. I contemplated picking something up voluntarily, but didn’t (I justified this to myself, with dubious conviction, by noting that I wasn’t one of the people chosen by the policeman).

The scene shifted to somewhere else in the same world. There was a student who was being questioned outside his room, in a university residence. The man who questioned him was an agent of the state. The agent drilled him to prove his merit in society. The student listed his academic achievements. It appeared that he was doing exceptionally well  . . . except for his environmental duties. The agent began to recite something taken out of state dogma, but the student cockily finished what the agent was saying for him, listing The Three Things that everyone in society was supposed to uphold, which just happened to be tacked up on the student’s door on a piece of paper (there was a feeling that they were tacked up on every student’s door). They were self-against-self, self-editing, or self-criticizing injunctions, known as The Three Paranoias:

1 The Paranoia of Survival

2 The Paranoia of Social Conformity

3 The Paranoia of Responsibility

Martin read over what he’d written of his dream carefully, keeping mentally in touch with the feelings and certainties he’d felt while dreaming. As he often did, he noticed upon looking back that there had been a reality surrounding the dream which was simply assumed, like the way everyone assumes the complex, meaningful world surrounding their waking identities. And there were vivid emotional nuances that he felt while dreaming, which he couldn’t get down on paper, just like with normal memories.

Martin placed his dream journal beside the bed again. He decided to go back to sleep, since there was nothing pressing he had to do that day.

He drifted into sleep, into sitting at a kitchen table, drinking coffee and looking across at the linear flux-time assassin, Voratio Santini.

Their table was in the middle of a low bridge stretching across a harbour. The grey colours of the scene seemed to shift around them, a blurry, rhythmic movement, like an image reflected in water. But Voratio’s form stayed sharp, the boundaries of his image remaining as dark, thick lines, like a character in a black and white animation.

Voratio took a deep breath through his nostrils, made a sweeping gesture with his hand, and said, with absolute conviction, “Wishful thinking assumes that what you desire is unlikely to occur, whereas making things really happen is accepting the idea that your firm, determined intent will in fact cause that thing to happen, step-by-step. If it doesn’t happen then you are being insincere in your conviction, there are hidden reservations in your psyche, or the intentions of others may be blocking you. It helps to have abundant energy and good concentration. Although the exploration of methods to take advantage of this is up to you, there are traditional ways, long ago worked out, which I highly recommend you avail yourself of.”

“That having been said, it is best that you work with the situation you find yourself in, such that you view it as having naturally arisen out of your individuality and decisions.” Voratio placed his hands palms down upon the table and thrust his face at Martin. An open, but grey sky framed Voratio’s angular features. “You have chosen me to be your representative of systems, of tried-and-true methods that can provide sure success along the path. I strongly suggest that you follow the few basic principles I am presenting to you. It is best that you not ignore the examples of the many who have gone before you.” He began to trace figures on the table with his finger, as if etching these basic principles into its wood. “Look for possible openings without setting your sights on one particular route, because the path of least resistance that would best fulfill your truest intent may be something you could not possibly foresee. It is not for you to plan out, in all of its ineffable details, the scenario of your ultimate fulfillment, as perhaps you already know.” Voratio looked at him searchingly, and maybe somewhat suspiciously.

“Yes.”

“So it comes down to not just focusing your attention on particulars, although that is important, but also on the overall intent of a thing, because to obsess over one part, is to neglect the whole.”

“Understood.”

“It seems to me that to a degree you are already informed in what I am telling you.” Voratio said, a little pointedly.

“Yes, but it helps to have someone as casually familiar in its actual implementation to explain it, to get a taste of that . . . casual assuredness.”

“Glad,” Voratio said, his face transforming into an enormous grin, “to be of service.”

Martin then saw a flash of movement within the top periphery of his vision. Voratio put his hand out quickly, grin vanishing, to catch his attention, but Martin was already looking up, at J. P. Infinity, who stood balancing on top of a high wooden pole, like the lookout on a sailing ship. Her sturdy, voluptuous form, along with the vitality that made her flesh firm, her glowing cheeks, her breasts, made her like a fruit-bearing tree, the wild hair on her head breathing the sky, the light. She had her hand up over her eyes, as if she were scanning for land, or saluting the horizon. Above her in the sky hung a full moon, shining.

The water surrounding them had become the endless, vast ocean, the unknown, the landscape of the unsaid. It remained hidden, unseen, like the deep ocean below you as you swim on your back, yet it seethed with an awesome, terrifying intelligence, infusing Martin with a secret excitement, an exquisite knowing. It was the genuine promise of mystery which has always yet to unfold, the true vastness of things, forever in between the lines.

She jumped, all in one motion, performing a swan dive, down into the abyss. He could feel her descent in his guts. He wanted to cry out, a victory howl, in celebration of her bravery.

At the last moment, just as the fingertips of her outstretched hands were about to break the surface of the deep, he saw that she had tied a bungee cord to her ankles. She bounced smoothly back up to the top of the pole, then gazed coolly down upon him, eyebrows raised, questioningly.

My most recent (science fiction) book is Gray World: Stealing Fire: https://theinfinitelivingroom.com/2012/04/13/gray-world-11/

Tao Eating, Zen Digesting

Sensei Yula and Becca Mukti of Toronto’s The Centre for the Ways, have released a new ebook, Tao Eating, Zen Digesting:

Cover for 'Tao Eating, Zen Digesting: Pillar Five'

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/305758

The Alphabet Children

Francisco Mejia, in my view an exceptionally unique and gifted speculative fiction writer, has just announced the publication of his book The Alphabet Children:

http://authorfranciscomejia.blogspot.ca/

Haunted Flesh Flames go to Dinner

They sort of careened into each other downtown, spinning around each other’s drunken trajectory, somehow instant friends, bonded by the endless night, by the pact of debauchery, all the edges of daily grinding, the hard knocks, and pay-the-bills headaches, put on hold. But all that was in the background, chasing them down with their drinks.

They followed Emmanuel up the hill, which seemed replete with buildings, superimposed on each other, stacked on each other; Emmanuel was taking in the surrounding city like an Escher painting, a new permutation of seeing double. It was all part of the film these people he met were making. They took advantage of their drunken ascent to get some choice shots. Unfortunately the twilight was only allowing them a few surfaces upon which they could project artistically meaningful and humorous phrases. They only got two in.

The phrases failed to really register on Emmanuel; it was their thing, this film business, and he only brushed up against it obliquely. Well, maybe it was becoming more his thing too. He was kind of escorting them, had fallen into the role of organizing the mood.

On the way they related to Emmanuel their intense distaste for cutthroat restaurant kitchens. They seemed to be getting across that they worked in such, to be giving Emmanuel their impression of them. They were using him as an audience, a sounding board for their displeasure at being used, being driven by the insane, selfish busyness of these greasy consumer culture kitchens, which trapped them in a double bind of ‘I need money but I hate this, and I am so much more but here I am trapped in these stuff-your-face factories, getting paid shit to do shit…’

They were like haunted flesh flames, and he could see their Celtic blood harking back in them, feeding their presence, that old proud fire, and they could be roaming the battlefield, a war band of headhunting picts, finally rising up to settle the score with the infidels who’d broken the bonds of honour.

Emmanuel took them into the restaurant at the top of the hill. He knew it would be different, a counterpoint. Inside it was mellow, respectful. The atmosphere was truly aesthetic, understated, beautiful in that soft, gentle way, reconciled with the hard lines of the world, finding balance and peace and sober artistry anyway, but not in spite—just so.

They sat down.

There was a subtle feeling from the kitchen. It was like a sort of concern, a conscientiousness that was intent to do well by them without being cloying. It was an intelligent feeling, the organized intent to create an aesthetically pleasing, efficient and enlightened atmosphere.

They were all simply wordlessly impressed by this. The kind of thing where your heart hurts because it is relaxing, when so used to constricting in defence.

Natalie’s eyes took on an odd focus then. She swore. They looked where she was gazing. Out the window, visible from a few blocks away, high up, was one of those eye-grabbing, digital animation advertisement billboards, the ones with the cleverly psychological phrases that dig into your psyche, trying to find that piece of ground to plant its flag into, to claim you for the corporate empire. Natalie didn’t say it, but it was clear how her reaction was a bitter reproach for the way it intruded into this beautiful, considerate restaurant realm. Cognitive trespassing.

Emmanuel didn’t react, continuing to let the atmosphere take him, to assume it as the rising sign of their evening. He watched as the haunted intensity slipped into a place that was like an opening in the woods, with mossy green rocks to sit on, and a river to contemplate, after walking out of the hardcore porn, quick easy buck, concrete jungle district. It takes a moment to adjust, but the contrast is clear, the effect obvious.

The Wholly Wedded Gift of the Law

The Law was the compounded changing
judgment, He, the law-abiding
judge, a multi-layered cafe
pastry man, with a Mind
full of cafe mumbles,
a thick paste of past
between his layers, almost liquid,
seeping continuously,
between prim coffee sips,
through half-baked barriers
of querulous cogitation.

His problem was that he wanted to BE
his cake and EAT it too,
and also to stand outside, admiring its colors,
the delicacy of feathered flakes, to
marvel at the miracle of
mixture that birthed it;
and to taste it, especially,
best flavors from most treasured,
deepest profound layers. But,
because sour parts gave indigestion, and
hidden stones fallen into the initial mix,
cracked teeth, and scraped
tender-proud gums, and
too much sugar on the surface
ice,
caused wincing embarrassment—
because of these, it was hard
to savor the good
for fear of the bad.

So he resolved to be . . .
a criminal,
to weave inside and outside of
association’s Law, bending the
ephemeral flow, of judgment, of
sometimes slow, other times
quick jerks and twitches
of mental machinations.
And he would go backwards sometimes too,
or forwards if it suited him, drifting,
but not foundering, playing along,
but not necessarily by the rules.
And he did not play to win;
he didn’t have to, being a
clever Crook,
who understood the
rule of the Law
which,
in the fine print,
(in-between
intricate layers),
arbitrarily states
that there is, in fact,
nothing
but the Law.

And therefore, also, there
shall be and is no weeping One,
who really falls
(who falls?) through the
treacherous cracks, into obscurity,
like a contemptible Crumb
pushed off the cake onto the table,
then flicked onto the filthy floor
by the Merciless Finger.

And no One Crumb may soar
up the hierarchical ranks of the
Wedding Cake, to live in
Perfect Union
at the Top,
standing victoriously betwixt
a static,
forever smiling,
Mystic Marriage.
No,
there is only the
Wholly Wedded Gift,
the movement
of the Law.

Probe reviews Gray World

A favourable review of my speculative fiction book Gray World: Stealing Fire, has just come out in issue 153 of Probe, the official magazine of the SFFSA.

My science fiction book, Gray World: Stealing Fire, is no longer available at  White Cat publications, due to White Cat’s internal difficulties that have recently come to light (I am no longer contractually obligated to White Cat). I am currently seeking a new publisher.

See this post for a full description: https://theinfinitelivingroom.com/2012/04/13/gray-world-11/

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