This and That – a Feed Book

ThisAndThat

This is what’s next – my new work, to be serialized only here on Wattpad. It’s an idea I’ve been tossing around for a while and I think it might have some legs. If fictions are reflections of life, then a lot of “the way we live now” is through endless scrolling through a variety of sources – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, news feeds and so on. As in Julio Cortazar’s book “All Fires the Fire”, in our world it’s “All Apps the App” – they all blend together in the day-to-day experience of them. Along with blogs and postings of our own are mingled the postings and realities of everything we choose (and some we don’t) to let into our senses. This work is an attempt to capture some of that experience. It will also have story, characters, and drama stirred together in the overall pot. It will incorporate some of my ongoing thoughts and personal experiences with cancer and with the world as it is,  along with ideas from my own collection of items in my Flipboard magazine Cashier World, my own feeds feeding into this feed book.

Reviews – Snapdragon Alley, Sexy Teenage Vampires

felt like sharing a couple of interesting reviews i found on amazon, from people who have clearly read other stories of mine and have a sense of what to expect. such reviews are rare and, in the words of my father, ‘happy-making’

Snapdragon Alley

Like Most Lichtenberg, It’s All About the Journey, Not the Destination October 5, 2016
This novella has a plot. Some kids find a mysterious reference, on an old bus route map, to a street that doesn’t seem to exist anymore, (if it ever did). Said kids head out to find it. Maybe they do and maybe they don’t, and maybe they should and maybe they shouldn’t. Doesn’t really matter. At least the story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and as post-postmodern playfulness goes this is more coherent than most. What does matter is the many, many exquisitely phrased observations, descriptions, moments, and little scenes that are peppered generously throughout the book.

The main characters are kids, but that doesn’t make it a kid’s book. I can’t imagine a young reader getting into this, as a general rule, unless that young reader were particularly ambitious, flexible, and open to experiment.

The book struck me on two levels. On one level Lichtenberg treats the prospect of an escape or gateway to another reality with restraint, melancholy, and a hint of quiet desperation, which is not your usual approach to fantasy gateways. His various characters approach the prospect of such a gateway with reluctance or zeal or enthusiasm, but always tinted by an undercurrent of sadness or disappointment. An appealing approach that can get under the reader’s skin.

Of more immediate impact, for me, was the second level – the level at which the author created his kid characters. The two older kids, who first explore the references to mysterious Snapdragon Alley, are distinct and memorable characters, built from the ground up and unique in their perspectives and presence. Only relatively briefly on the stage, they remain in the mind. The third kid, Argus, is the youngest and the one most attuned to the ineffable mystery of the gateway, and he sneaks into the story and then takes it over about halfway through. I enjoyed every moment spent with this character, (and I understand that he reappears in later stories, although I have not read them yet).

So, if you would like to enjoy some lovely, restrained, but also edgy and acrobatic writing, well this might be just the right choice for you. (Please note that I found this book a while ago while browsing Amazon Kindle freebies. At this point in time I believe it is still free. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)

Low-key and Melancholy on Platform 12 August 17, 2016
This is a collection of three short stories that follow two subway-lurking vampires. They look like teenagers, they aren’t terribly sexy, and they are pretty sneaky/subtle vampires. The point, though, isn’t to illustrate some sort of teen/romance/vampire story, so that’s all O.K.

Our vampires are sort of melancholy. The subway setting pretty much describes the limits of their existence. Their romance is sad, ironic and lackluster. At the risk of sounding a little artsy-fartsy, these are tone poems. Little works that offer such depth and insight as the reader cares to find. I’ve read enough of Lichtenberg’s work to find his stories oddly appealing in a low key sort of fashion.

So, if you’re curious and feeling a bit adventurous, this could be a nice way to sample Lichtenberg’s work

Recommended: More Wattpad Goodness

I’ve nearly completed half of my pledge to take a year off from writing fiction, and it’s helped that I’ve been swamped at work, putting in around 60 hours a week at the old open-floor-plan-paradise-prison that passes for the norm in Silicon Valley these days. With a partial clearing in the release schedule, though, I’ve found a bit of time to catch up and hunker down with some of my favorite writers on Wattpad.

@DawnAdrie – Rules of Escape – is a journey into the linked minds of otherwise institutionalized autistic young people. This story is quite original and succeeds very well in shifting perspective among several characters, some of whom are inside, and some of whom are outside the telepathic circle . There are abundant twists and turns and I’m genuinely excited every time a new chapter pops up in my mobile notifications because I never have any idea whose turn it’s going to be or how it’s going to advance the story.

@ShalonSims – The Dreaming: Dark Star Book Five – the next in an exciting and ambitious tale of a world where totalitarian rulers harness the power of dream walkers in a battle of unlikely factions, featuring the old and the young, the innocent and the suspect, the foolish and the wise, the human and the alien. There’s a lot to unpack in this and its related series, all well worth looking in to.

@LaraBlunte – Blame the Devil – she’s at it again. Yet another irresistible page-turner from the unstoppable @LaraBlunte, a writer of such talent and mystique that she even has me reading romance fiction, almost against my will, and enjoying it immensely, because of her great style and perspective. I always say that my favorite feature of reading is how it lets you remotely occupy the mind of another person. It’s always a treat visiting this one.

@MichaelGraeme – The Sea View Cafe – and speaking of treats, Michael is rolling out another instantly hypnotic story of individuals pulled along by their own incomprehensible inner forces. In other words, literature. Michael’s writing always reminds me of the classics, writers like Conrad and James, Thackery and Eliot. He’s a masterful stylist and quietly burrows you deep inside his characters’ souls. His The Price of Being with Sunita is still resonating, months after I finished reading it.

Highly recommended, all.

In a general note, I’ve enjoyed that past few weeks of having my last story, ‘How my Brained Ended up Inside this Box’, featured on Wattpad. It was even on the top row of the app for a few days there and got a bunch of ‘eyes’ looking at it (also thanks to the beautiful new cover someone made for me (I won’t mention their name here so they don’t get besieged with requests!). Another friend recently made some new covers for some of my other stories – what a great treat. I’m so grateful. But what I started out to say was that you have to enjoy these moments as they happen and not try to hang on to them forever. As a bookseller for many years I became accustomed to the rhythms of the business, and the cycles of sales enjoyed by books as they came and went throughout the years. You’d come across gems and want everyone to read them but their time is always limited. Whenever I think of ‘success’ in fiction I think of The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake, an excellent writer who had several stories featured famously and one book which had its shining moment in the sun. His own moment, his life, was sadly far too short, ending in suicide. I believe we ought to love our time as best we can, and let the things we do, the things we create, have their own time, detach them from our selves, and let them go. They are not us. We have our own stories to live.

Everything is Scammable, in its own way

Reading about the poor souls whose self-published online novels have been stolen and plagiarized by unscrupulous ghouls, I was reminded of the nefarious hacks who’ve attempted to profit on my own non-existent fame and notoriety by publishing fake versions of fake books using my real and profitless name. I pity the fools. But everything is scammable in this world and probably the next one as well. Witness the clownish attempt to get people to click on phishing links when they search for How My Brain Ended Up Inside This Box – a masterpiece of meaningless drivel in and of itself:

backed

the real truth is, here is a real link to a free version of the book thus described.

Featured on Wattpad: How My Brain Ended Up Inside This Box

featured_on_wattpad

I’m happy to see that my most recent sci-fi story, “How My Brain Ended Up Inside This Box”, is now a “featured” selection on Wattpad. It’s a bit of what I like to call “magical futurism”, featuring a black-market “artificially intelligent person” (or A.I.P., or “ape” in the colloquial sense, as in ‘the planet of the’), an organic being, farm-raised on genetically engineered smoothies and destined for auction to the highest bidding criminal enterprise. Gifted with the ability to communicate with foul-mouthed seagulls and ill-tempered felines, the gender-less, age-less, race-less creature has to find its way to escape from the clutches of its mother and other assorted enemies, in this fairly exciting and ultimately utterly unexpected novel.

As with all my books, this one is free on Smashwords and Feedbooks as well.

 

How My Brain got a nice review

On Goodreads. Made me happy and edged up my books’ overall Goodreads average rating to 2.99. Can they ever hit 3.00? The Law of Average would say “maybe”. If enough random people randomly read random books and rated them, that rating would likely be around 3.00, and that’s exactly what seems to have happened with mine.

Anyway: How My Brain Ended Up Inside This Box really is (IMHO) a pretty good story, a fresh and somewhat more sane take on artificial intelligence than the usual. And it’s free, of course, like all my books always are on Smashwords or Feedbooks.

Such a great book! A fresh new take on the whole Artificial Intelligence genre. And it’s simplicity is its beauty!

When the AIP discovers their self, we people’s-people reading it discover ourselves and the world along with them!

Glad I stumbled across this little treasure. It will be in one of my all time favourite reads.

Out of My System: A short story

(this story is a sequel of sorts, or an alternate telling, or a parallel universe encryption, of a story I posted here the other day called The System)

[soundtrack by SPC ECO]

It was the one locked door, the one question you could never ask, so naturally it drove them all crazy. Not me. I didn’t need to know. I was not on that basis. If you’re in The Resistance, you’re supposed to resist, am I right? But that particular itch was too much for most. You’d have to be a saint or brain damaged or both. Someone tells you not to think of the letter ‘A’. What are you thinking of, eh? Got you there, one way or another. You have to be mentally tough. You have to have a discipline, a creed, a practice. You have to have a black belt in self-mind control. Basically, you have to Be Your Own Fascist Dictator.

You’ve heard of Schrodinger’s Paradox, right? Of course you have. There’s a box and you cannot look inside but you know (because they told you) that inside the box is a cat and some poisoned cat food. You cannot look, you cannot know for certain what is going on inside that box. As far as your certain knowledge goes, that cat is both alive and dead. Alive, because it was a cat at some point and cats are living creatures. Dead, because living creatures get hungry and the food in there is poisoned. If you could open the box, you would be able to know for sure which state the cat was in, but you can’t, so you can’t.

That’s how it was with us. Out there, in the world, The System ruled. Inside The System, everything was data, everything was known, everything was rated and ranked, collated and collected, garbaged in and garbaged out. And I mean everything. People, of course. Products, for sure. Companies, places, historical events, whatever. The Declaration of Independence had a pretty steady ranking of 76 on The System’s universal scale of zero to one hundred, but most things didn’t hold that steady. They moved, and they moved in mysterious ways. Your mother was in there. Your sister was too. That coffee drink you just consumed? Rated and ranked. They all had their numbers, and you could find out anything’s number at any time, and most people did. It was how people lived.

You wouldn’t make any decision without knowing its worth. You wouldn’t go out to some restaurant if you didn’t know exactly how other people judged it most recently. You wouldn’t take a walk in the woods without knowing the value of the view and the landscape, the number of steps, the average ascent and descent, the climate, the history, the likelihood of encounters with snakes. You’re a civilized person. You can be well-informed. You can experience anything BEFORE you experience it personally. You can see what it’s going to look like. You can know how it’s going to feel. You can rest without having exerted an effort. This is all good. The world is not only your oyster, it’s a five star oyster, an oyster with an aggregate score of 95.7 or more.

There were those who resisted, who refused. We called ourselves The Resistance. We had learned about other people who had called themselves The Resistance and fancied ourselves as courageous and selfless as they, those who had fought, those who had hid, those who had protected the innocent, saving lives and being the bridge to freedom across their heroically cold dead bodies. We were not really brave, we just wanted to be “off the grid”. We wanted to be data-free. If anything, The System would have us scored at exactly and precisely zero, like companies that failed, like people who died, like products that couldn’t be bought anymore. We would disappear from the records, we would be lost forever to history, to lore. We wouldn’t exist, as far as The System could tell, but we would be there, there in the world, thriving in obscurity, glorious in the dark.

Let them sell other people’s personal proclivities to marketers and product designers, not ours. No one would ever target us specifically with ads. No one would be able to tell our little secrets, our dirty little thoughts would be closed to big business forever. How rich we would be in liberty, if destitute in every other way, because, let’s face it, if you want to be off the grid, you have to be nobody nowhere. We slept in the woods behind the big grocery store. We bought nothing from no one, ever. We scrambled and scraped, we got by on scraps, we were dirty and smelled but at least we were free. I stole some black lipstick and rubbed it all over my cheeks. I “borrowed” some boots from some beach-going bozo, and walked along the ocean at night.

Jose C_ was the first one to crack, because of that one locked door, that one nagging thought. What if we were not off the grid? How could we ever be sure? We couldn’t find out, like Schrodinger’s box. We believed we were outside The System, that The System knew nothing about us, but if one were to ask, only once, and even if it were somebody else who asked about us, there we would be, in The System for sure, just because of that act, that question.

“What about Jose C_ ?”

“Jose C_?” The System said to itself, and then it knew, it knew there was a thing that was called Jose C_. That right there would give it a One, and just like that, Jose C_ was back on the grid. Hellen Duane was next after him, then it was Carly, and then it was Shrimp Boy’s turn. Soon I was the only one left, the last one standing, the True Refugee, the Outcast, the Final Believer. I had faith, faith in myself. I could resist that dread taunting urge. Hadn’t I learned from the masters, from years of mindfulness trainings, from studious studyings of the impossible fakirs, the ones who could turn themselves inside out, the ones who could pass a thin wire throughout their entire intestinal tract? Yes, I had.

Since you asked.

I am scratching these notes on the walls of a cave, a cave near Pomponio Beach, about a hundred yards north of the parking lot entrance. I think I am pretty much done. This is the end of my journey. I barely have the strength to finish this scratching. History will never record it. No one will ever find out if I was rated or ranked, if The System ever knew me. I am even wiping my DNA off of this stick with my last, final breath. Goodbye, and good luck.

Yours Truly,

Jermaine P. Rincon

dammit