Thursday, November 25, 2010

TSA rumoured to be ready to launch TRAP in the Spring

Contractors to the DoJ have apparently leaked specifications for a new technology being prepared for use by the TSA.

T.R.A.P - the Tissue Recognition Anti-terrorism Protocol - is designed to track foreign nationals who may potentially pose a threat to national security.

TSA agents will be issued with custom designed biopsy kits that will be used to extract small tissue samples from foreign nationls at their point of entry into the United States. The samples will then be analysed, recorded and used to validate the identity of foreigners against fresh samples that will be taken each time that a foreigner travels by plane or train.

Homeland Security has made no official comment on this story but a senior TSA official is believed to have expressed the view that "T.R.A.P. may be a pain in the ass but it could save our butts."


This is all fiction of course.

But who knows, it could catch on.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Gotta Have IT" 69 Quickies

Hi folks,

my story, "Need Leash" is in Rachel Kramer Bussel's new anthology of 69 quickies (stories of 1,200 words or less that grab the attention immediately).

Check the table of contents below. You'll see plenty of name you know.

Introduction: Short, Sweet and Totally Sexy

Seven-Letter Word Heather Lin
No Blame, No Shame Jeremy Edwards
Wasn’t It Good? Andrea Dale
The Things a Woman Will Make a Man Do for Her Isabelle Gray
Special Collections Fiona Curtis
Wonderland Madeline Elayne
Red Light Angela Caperton
My Femme Evan Mora
Genesis Shanna Germain
Serious Moonlight Michael A. Gonzales
Too Wondrous to Measure Salome Wilde
Hors d’Oeuvre Stan Kent
Missed Connection Tigress Healy
Ties That Bind Daniel Burnell
Eat Me Marina Saint
Jarret Shane Allison
Lucky Number Fifty-One Jennifer Peters
Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler Tara Young
Spunk Sylvia Lowry
Time Cecilia Tan
Dining in the Dark Elizabeth Daniels
Downpour Elle
Need-Leash Mike Kimera
Crushed Satin Organza Carmel Lockyer
Not on the Mouth Cole Riley
Hot Buns on a Sunday Afternoon Erica Rivera
Feel the Burn Thomas S. Roche
Trixie Jen Cross
Police Dogging Elizabeth Coldwell
Tip Me Kiki deLovely
Marxist Theory Elizabeth Hyder
The Dirty Things She Says Sinclair Sexsmith
Laughter in Hades Teresa Noelle Roberts
The Quick Stop Shashauna P. Thomas
Pain Surfer Cate Ellink
After Ten Years Christen Clifford
Over His Shoulder Maximillian Lagos
Manners Rachel Kramer Bussel
Veronica’s Ass Matt Conklin
Punishment Befitting the Crime D. L. King
Lies Kristina Wright
A Forced Witness Vampirique Dezire
Consensus Denise Hoffner
Don’t Struggle Valerie Alexander
Plotter Monocle
Intercept Burton Lawrence
Not a Bang, but a Whimper Jacqueline Applebee
Suggestion Emerald
Hands Free Effie Merryl
Remembering the Wrinkles Penelope Friday
Leaves Elise Hepner
The Copilot Mike Bruno
Pierced Kirsty Logan
Last-Time Lesbian Geneva King
Anal-yzed Donna George Storey
Independence Day Kate Pearce
Going Bald Craig J. Sorensen
Continuing Education Anya Levin
Meet Me in the Kitchen Giselle Renarde
Over the Line Helia Brookes
Not Just a Myth Heidi Champa
Hunger Maria See
The Tipping Point Lolita Lopez
The Advantage of Working from Home Kay Jaybee
For Dessert Jordana Winters
Good Neighbors Mercy Loomis
Laugh Sommer Marsden
A Good Stiff One Kathleen Bradean
Vacation Pictures Robert Peregrine

Friday, November 12, 2010

A small moment of pleasure

I'd like to share a small moment of pleasure with you.

I'm reading Lorrie Moore's "A Gate At The Stairs". I first encountered her via her short story collection "Birds of America". I'm only a few pages into her novel and I've found myself sighing in admiration at her use of language.

It seems to me that there is a tendency in novels to have a lot of the text there simply to move things along. The text is mechanical,sometimes sleekly efficient and admirable in its own way, but not inherently beautiful.

Moore's novel is written with the same attention to language as her short stories. This is not to say that the novel lacks pace or structure but rather that the pace fueled by a strong sense of place and character and the structure has beauty etched through every strut and brace.

Here's an example:

Our narrator is a twenty year old college student, a country girl with little experience of life beyond her farm, who is interviewing for a part time job looking after children. She is meeting a prospective employer

"I'm Tassie Keltjin;" I said thrusting out my hand.

She took it and then studied my face. "Yes," she said slowly, absently unnervingly scrutinizing each of my eyes.Her gaze made a slow , observing circle around my nose and mouth. "I'm Sarah Brink," she said finally. I was not used to being looked at close up, not used to the thing I was looking at looking back. Certainly my own mother had never done such looking, and in general my face had the sort of smooth, round stupidity that did not prompt the world's study. I had always felt as hidden as the hull in a berry, as secret and as fetal as the curled fortune in a cookie, and such hiddenness was not without its advantages, its egotisms, its grief-fed grandiosities..

Text like this I can taste. I sip at it the way I would a good wine. Recalling it makes me smile. This is how I would like to be able to write.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

A Kiss Before the Apocalypse (Remy Chandler, #1)A Kiss Before the Apocalypse by Thomas E. Sniegoski

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a short novel, (less than 300 pages) dealing with big themes at a brisk pace that shows a discipline I wish more writers in this genre would share.

The plot line is pure graphic novel (a plus from my point of view; I’m a long time fan of the genre): The Angel of Death is missing, the apocalypse is coming and Remy Chandler, PI and former Seraphim has to find the Angel of Death to prevent the end of the world. The downside (apart from the blood and pain needed to achieve the task) is that success will mean the death of the woman he loves.

The book brims with new ideas that capture the imagination and old ideas artfully redrawn that give the book a context. The feel is as Film Noire as the characters name suggests and all the better for that.

Sniegoski handles the big issues here not by rambling discussions of ethics and philosophy but by bringing us to the basics of humanity: the overwhelming impact of being loved, the inevitability of death, the optimism it takes to keep going in the face of pain and suffering, and the acknowledgement that there are no short cuts when it comes to emotions; knowing grief is coming won’t protect you from its bite.

The linchpin of this book is Remy’s desire to put aside the angelic nature that he has become ashamed of and embrace the physically fragile but emotionally and spiritually rich existence of humans. This allows us both an insight into the inhumanity of Heaven and the things about our own lives that define us as human.

The various non-human entities here are described succinctly and with a clarity that enabled me to see the movie that this book would make.

The book truly comes to life in Remy’s relationship with his young Labrador dog, Marlowe. Anyone who has ever had a Labrador as part of their pack will recognise Marlowe. They will also be jealous of Remy’s ability actually to hear Marlowe’s voice rather than having to work out what is being said through gestures and body-language; few things are more humbling than realising that your dog is being patient with you, waiting for you finally to figure out what he has already told you three times.

The book would have been stronger in my view if there had been a little more visibility of the back-story between Remy and his wife, but this is a minor nit.

I look forward to the next in the series.

One last thing: don’t be put off by the title. It is definitely the worse thing about the book.

I suspect there’s an editor out there somewhere who should be blushing for having insisted on this title and the even worse cover art.

I imagine the editor saying: “It’s a wonderful title, honestly. We’ll maximise the appeal to the target demographic if we have the word Kiss and Apocalypse in the title and let’s make sure the dog gets on the cover, oh, and give him a sort of Harry Dresden grim-in-a-leather-duster look (yes I know it isn’t in the text – this is cover art, darling, you don’t have to be so literal) and remember to give him a big long sword, gotta love the symbolism in that.”

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Monday, November 01, 2010

Review of "Noah's Compass" by Anne Tyler

Noah's CompassNoah's Compass by Anne Tyler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On the surface this is a slight tale about a man in his sixties who is trying to simplify his life. The characters are ordinary people and nothing much happens except the everyday things that all of us live through.

But Anne Tyler's gift is to make us look again at all those things that we take for granted and see them differently. In this case, she shows us that passivity may not be a virtue, that life is what you remember and that memories are made and preserved by the people who you are connected to.

Liam Pennywell is 61 and adrift in his own life. Liam trained in philosophy, taught history, is once widowed, once divorced and has three daughters but he has somehow contrived barely to experience his own life.

He turns the loss of his job as an opportunity to downsize his life. He seems at peace with the passive path he has chosen. Then something is stolen from him: a few hours of his memory, the result of a concussion suffered in an attack he cannot recall.

Liam's efforts to retrieve his memory lead him into a situation in which he finally understands that the most important thing he has forgotten is the impact that his first wife's suicide had on. He is forced to confront that even he is connected to others and that his choices have consequencews and that he must choose how he will live.

The humanity and compassion in this most unromantic of books matches Tyler's earlier works and that alone would be enough to make this book memorable but what captured my heart was the quiet grace of Tyler's language and the subtle skill of her unobtrusive storytelling.

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