Thursday, June 1, 2017

Quick Sips - Terraform May 2017

I'm still not sure exactly what's going on with Motherboard's Terraform. I technically missed a late excerpt release last month but May has been without another original release, though it does include another interesting excerpt. What's here is stylistic and rather strange, a series of stories within stories and layers within layers. The excerpts tease at interesting projects and provide a vivid and weird feeling that lingers. This is still very much science fiction with a sense of urgency, which is Terraform's goal, mixing planetary mysteries cyborgs and language with violence and the threat of violence. I'm still playing wait-and-see as to if the publishing schedule will even out, but until then I guess the reviews will continue!


“Dust As” by Dorothy Santos and Elia Vargas (906 words)

This is a rather strange and lyrical story that’s about looking at the Earth and thinking of it in different ways. There are two parts to the story that work as distinct from each other, as iterations of each other, or perhaps as separate grains of the same sandcastle, each of them marked with their own picture of a larger whole while also creating that larger whole, all layers within layers and yet at the same time complete. Which makes for a rather odd experience, especially as the story isn’t all that much of a story. There isn’t much action to it, at least, not a lot of plot. It features Atad as she goes about thinking about the world, about the Earth, about soil, about cyborgs. The thoughts she has are interesting, though, if perhaps a bit hard to follow at the times when the story gets its most abstract and lyrical, making the piece feel more like a beat poem in places than a story. What’s here, though, builds this vision of the Earth as layers of dust, as dust in motion and as this thing that seems whole (the planet) while essentially being made up of all these little airy parts. And the story goes further to look at language at the same level, imagining how we might deepen our understanding of the world and ourselves if we look at language a bit like soil, a bit like dust. It’s odd and it seems to be in conversation with a lot, evoking science and science fiction, poetry and prose. Atad as a thinker is tumbling down this rabbit hole of layers, thinking of scales and about how a change in perspective can radically alter how one thinks about the system of Earth and its place in the universe. For my part I was along for the ride, tumbling right along with, never quite catching my breath from the madcap flow and pace of the story but intrigued all the same to continue, not to pull away, to come down to a new level only to find that there might be more still and more. But it’s an interesting piece with some lovely writing and it certainly gave me as a reader a lot to examine and think about. Definitely a story to spend some time with!

“Excuses” by Joseph MacKinnon (2475 words)

This is an interesting excerpt from a longer work and as such it does a good job giving a bit of flavor and a very captivating mystery but little in resolving it or really giving too much on the main character, Lyle Badegger, aside from the fact that he’s seems rather violent, rather arrogant, and apparently in a position of some power and influence. At least in his own mind. The piece largely revolves around death and violence, but of the unseen variety. Lyle fantasizes about killing someone and then watches a program about a tragedy on one of Saturn’s moons where a great many people died. This specter of violence makes for a dark backdrop for the story, which is less a solid plot as much as it is a taste of a larger narrative. It hints at what might be explored in this world it introduces, one that enjoyed some sort of CLOUD but has since lost it, and the loss of the CLOUD certainly seems to have some large implications. Whether or not something larger is going on isn’t so much unsure as it is a matter of time before it is revealed, but everything is in the early stages here. Lyle moves through the world as a truly unsavory character and what remains is the voice and the situation and the promise of more to come. It’s certainly an interesting opening and it seems like a project to keep an eye on. Indeed!


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