Friday, May 8, 2015


Last summer, I woke from one of those haunting dreams that left invisible ice over my flesh, and an ache in my heart.  In the dream, I learned that a friend of mine who died in a terrible car accident soon after the summer I turned eighteen had been brought back -- his parents had won the right in a government-sponsored lottery years earlier, but had kept their second chance on the q-t.  By the time I met this incarnation of my friend in the dream, he was a teenager, pretty much the age I last knew him in the real world leading up to the accident.  I woke up the next morning to welcome our wonderful weekend house guests, those fabulous Sisters Dent (both are world-published authors, great friends, and forces to be reckoned with; Karen, as I often like to point out, was once a successful actor who appeared on my late, beloved soap, One Life to Live).  As is usual for one of those weekends spent with two of my favorite friends and writers, we ate a spectacular lunch, filled our coffee cups, and settled in the living room to write and read from our latest projects. From the moment I put pen to page, the story based upon that eerie, bittersweet dream dashed itself off, pretty much in the order I experienced it.  The story went out to Jason Rennie, publisher of the spectacular magazine Sci Phi Journal.  Late on a Saturday night, during a break from whatever movie we were watching on the living room flat-screen, I sauntered into the Writing Room to check emails and found that 'George the Second' had been accepted into Issue #5.  The issue was just released, and contains work by amazing writers and artists, many of whom were kind enough to share the back-stories behind their contributions.

Roy Gray on "Why We Are Here" (Article): "New Scientist, 20 April 2006 issue contained Amanda Gefter’s piece 'Exploring Stephen Hawking's Flexiverse'.  Quoting from that, ‘The real lesson of these so-called singularity theorems is that the origin of the universe is a quantum event.’ My article started there.  It set me thinking that assuming the act of observation is crucial to quantum phenomena we, humanity, could be the observers. But we are here and now and the singularity that birthed our universe was then. I likened that moment as a version of Schrodinger's cat (a cat isolated in a box lives or dies by a quantum event) and our stargazing as opening the 'box or boxes' and so slowly closing in on the singularity. That led me to wonder if our future activities, using more advanced technology, have opened boxes. This suggested a variety of possibilities so I wrote the article but had no idea what to do with it. I even turned the result into poem but, as I’m a less than competent poet, no one was interested. I have read it out at a few SF conventions but probably bemused my audience."

Jeffrey A. Corkern on "On Emotion Drugs" (Article): "Is it possible to prove the existence of the soul using purely scientific methods, cold, objective logic and reason? Yes. Quite easily. In Sci Phi Journal #4, Jeffrey A. Corkern, in ‘On the Sentient Constraints of a Sentient-Containing Universe,’ explained why the existence of sentients in a Universe must be eternal, asked if analysis of human behavior would show at its rock-bottom the assumption of eternal existence, and urged the immediate commencement of a scientific effort to build a soul-detector. In Sci Phi Journal #5, in ‘On Emotion Drugs’, he shows this assumption clearly exists at the societal level, how the universal societal prohibition against emotion drugs has as its founding assumption the idea our existence is permanent and eternal. As a matter of logic, the entire problem turns out to be completely trivial. So completely trivial, in fact, any reader will be able to follow the logic for himself or herself and decide whether or not Mr. Corkern is right in urging the immediate commencement of a scientific effort to build a soul-detector -- or not. He guarantees you an interesting read."

(Artist Cat Leonard's beautiful artwork for 'George the
L. Jagi Lamplighter on "HMS Mangled Treasure: The Rescue of Mister Spaghetti" (Fiction): "My story takes place in the background of my Prospero’s Daughter series. (Mab, the supernatural detective, is a character in that series.) I originally wrote it for a Bad Ass Faeries Anthology.  When the time came to contribute, I didn't really feel like writing anything, but I sat down and prayed about it. The idea for this story came to me, and it made me cry. I figured any story that made me cry, I should probably write. It was hard to write, in a way, because it posited things that made me uncomfortable. I thought someone was going to complain fiercely about what the story says about autistic children...but to date, no one has. Sammy, the main character’s son, is based in a large part on a friend of my son. But the incident where Sammy peed on the neighbor’s doorstep was taken from the annals of actual family events -- though I am happy to say that, in my case, the neighbor forgave us."

Scott Chaddon on "The Great Teacher" (Fiction): "Years ago I spent a lot of time contemplating God's purpose for this world. In college I majored in art and minored in theater and learned that perfection of form never happened in a first attempt. I applied this understanding in forming one potential explanation as to why this world was so messed up. In all honesty the planet itself was perfect and it was mankind that was so terribly flawed. Humanity has a disturbing tendency to destroy everything it touches, including itself. Along this line of thinking I derived the theory that our world was a sketch, a rehearsal if you will, for God to realize every possible flaw and error in it's design so that it could use this experience to create a perfect people for a world. A world where the people lived, loved, created and did not destroy. It was from contemplation of this idea that my story was created."

Anthony Marchetta on "The Philosophy of Serenity" (Article): "‘The Philosophy of Serenity’ was originally an article I wrote pretty much for my own amusement called ‘Serenity: A Philosophical Review’. I wrote it right after I finished the movie Serenity for the third time (since then I’ve seen it at least once, maybe twice, more). I am a huge, slobbering C.S. Lewis fan, and when I watched the movie it struck me that Whedon, virulent atheist that he is, was making a pretty massive concession to the theistic side of the Great Debate.  Essentially, through the characters of Mal and Book, Whedon was admitting that, taken to its logical conclusion, atheism leads to complete despair. He even goes as far to say that it’s better to believe in literally ANYTHING than nothing at all. And C.S. Lewis said much the same thing in the climax of his novel The Silver Chair. Think about how blasphemous of an idea it is, in the modern world, to admit that it’s better to believe in a lie than to believe in nothing. It’s remarkable Whedon managed to get away with it without being publicly drawn and quartered."

Ben Zwycky on "Beyond the Mist" (Serialized Fiction): "Beyond the Mist -- a serial that began in Issue 2 and is still ongoing -- is a story of a man beginning with absolutely nothing: no possessions, no memories of who he is or how he came to be here, no reference point to be able to tell where he is or what is happening, no knowledge of the wider world, and not even solid ground to stand on; he is falling (or is it flying?) through an endless mist. One voice informs him that the mist is the last refuge of freedom from a world full of suffering and slavery; another that it is a self-imposed prison in a world full of beauty and adventure. Which should he believe? He makes his choice, and then things get interesting."

Patrick Baker on "Civic Militarism and Heinlein's Starship Troopers" (Article): "I am a part-time military historian, and I was working on an article on the history of civic militarism in the West.  Civic militarism is the idea that active citizenship is a transactional relationship between the nation and citizen.  In short, the concept is that a free citizen joins in the military forces of their country to fight and defend it; in return the citizen is recognized as a fully participating member of the body politic.  The thought occurred to me that the so-called 'Heinlein Rule' from Starship Troopers, where only military veterans are allowed to vote and  hold office, was the logical extension of civic militarism.  At the same time, I had to address the various objections to the idea, such as that it is fascist, racist, sexist, and so on. The article also gave me the chance to write about my favorite book, Starship Troopers.  So win-win."

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