Tag Archives: imperialism

Whatever it takes to get ahead: “The Spear Carrier,” free for the reading @CuriousFictions !

Posted on May 8, 2018 by

It’s story time once again! Today I’ve unearthed “The Spear Carrier,” another of my Slow Invasion stories, most of which were bought by Ellen Datlow back when she was at the helm of SciFiction.

“The Spear Carrier” is about Opal, an ambitious young diplomat in service on a planet called Arune, home to a people whom we earth types–behind their backs, anyway–like to call scarecrows. They’re big, they’re spindly, they’re haughty AF, and they love, love, love to duel to the death.

This is a quality that does not endear the scarecrows to humanity’s diplomatic core, but Opal sees it as a bug, not a feature. Nobody else is willing to take a chance on getting skewered, just to get promoted to Ambassador? Perhaps she’s got what it takes…

Here’s a snippet:

Masao touched his throat, and Opal guessed he was remembering the spaceship accident that had, indirectly, brought him here. He’d saved seventeen juvenile Budj from a decompressing passenger compartment on a cruise liner.

After the rescue, he’d been assaulted by a haughty child scarecrow that couldn’t bear the idea of owing her life to a primitive. The Budjmaiden almost strangled him. There were plenty of full-grown Budj who wished she’d succeeded.

Over the course of the story Opal and Masao walk their way through a complicated Arune ritual, and–despite significant differences–they eventually come to an understanding. I’m very fond of this story, and I hope you all enjoy it!


Support my fiction by tipping at Curious!

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I set up at Curious Fictions just after Patreon tried to change its funding model, in a way that adversely affected many of my friends and colleagues. Donor-funded artists benefit from a diverse crowdfunding ecosystem, and I like the way Curious Fictions works. You can read any of my stories for free and, if you wish, set up an account and offer a tip. If you want to be first to hear about my new offerings, you can subscribe–pay as little as a dollar a month, and you’ll get at least a story a month, and my endless thanks.

My previous Curious Fictions offerings include a time travel story, “Three Times over the Falls” and another Slow Invasion story, “Ruby, in the Storm.”

A stolen treasure. An act of revenge. My “A Slow Day at the Gallery,” now @CuriousFictions

Posted on February 26, 2018 by

Sunday marked my fiftieth birthday, and I thought I’d celebrate by telling you all about my latest Curious Fictions story, “A Slow Day at the Gallery.” Like “Ruby, in the Storm,” this short story is one of the Slow Invasion series, a collection of snapshots depicting humankind’s effort to join a wider community of spacegoing races. It’s about trade-offs and difficulties involved in being, in each of these relationships, the lesser among very unequal partners.

Colonialism and imperialism are themes I’ve been returning to, lately, in my work. It has been nice to revisit these earlier efforts in that direction.

In “A Slow Day at the Gallery,” an old man travels vast distances to visit his favorite Monet painting, one of the Waterlily Pond series, at the Tsebra art gallery where it now resides. Humanity thought they were lending the painting to the offworlders; there was a disagreement about the exact meaning of ‘loan’, and now things bid fair for the Monet to remain offworld for decades, centuries… or possibly forever.

Here’s a snippet:

Outside the authentic human museum with its authentic humidity-controlled air, he felt himself reviving. They passed into an ornately carved walkway, lined with windows and meant to communicate with the sensitive feet of the Tsebs, a lumpy obstacle course of knobs and gaps. Christopher’s ankles ached as he struggled to traverse it without falling. Just another hurdle, he told himself, like ducking the police or smuggling his false ident out of humanspace. 

The story appeared in Asimov’s SF and was picked up by David Hartwell for his Year’s Best SF series. It was very much inspired by my first trip to the Art Institute of Chicago, in 1997, where I saw my first Monet painting and realized something a print will never tell you–just what all the fuss was about.


Support my fiction by tipping at Curious!

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I set up at Curious Fictions just after Patreon tried to change its funding model, in a way that adversely affected many of my friends and colleagues. Donor-funded artists benefit from a diverse crowdfunding ecosystem, and I like the way Curious Fictions works. You can read any of my stories for free and, if you wish, set up an account and offer a tip. If you want to be first to hear about my new offerings, you can subscribe–pay as little as a dollar a month, and you’ll get at least a story a month, and my endless thanks.

My previous Curious Fictions offerings are a time travel story, “Three Times over the Falls” and another Slow Invasion story, “Ruby, in the Storm.”

Imperialism from Afar: “Ruby, in the Storm,” @CuriousFictions

Posted on January 22, 2018 by

My second Curious Fictions offering is another piece that the marvelous Ellen Datlow bought for SciFiction, back in the day. It’s called “Ruby, in the Storm,” and it’s one of a bunch of stories I sometimes call the Slow Invasion series. It takes place in a near-future Alberta, in the midst of a sometimes-violent global conversation about offworld immigration, alien students at the University of Calgary and just what it is that aliens are hoping to achieve by enrolling in Canadian universities.

Ruby was a featured story at CF, and here’s what the lovely folks there said about it.

A.M. Dellamonica deftly sketches a world where humans and recently-transplanted aliens rub shoulders in near-future Calgary. As tensions rise, themes of belonging, trust, and chosen societies come to the fore… be warned, afterward you may also want a pet Purvaran stormcloud. Rated R for some sexual content.

When I wrote this story, around about 2004, I had been living in Vancouver for over ten years. Writing about blizzards in Southern Alberta made me remember the beauty of winter on the prairies.

I had mostly hated freezing my ass off for months at a stretch, every year, and spent my youth vowing to move to somewhere bleepity bleeping warm. But after a decade on the Coast I was able to step back and remember that there were things I liked about snow. It was a jolt. It was also part of an emotional journey that made it possible for me to contemplate moving here to Toronto, where I am deliriously happen… even though it does actually snow on occasion.

This is one of the lesser-discussed things that writing can give its practitioners: unexpected views into our own sea changes.  People cannot help but see themselves in a distorted fashion, and even conscious self-reflection comes with a Hall of Mirrors effect. But when I was writing “Ruby, In the Storm,” I remember vividly how I caught myself trying to capture, in words, a particular winter thing: globs of clustered snowflakes falling slowly through amber streetlights, piling the fluff high in air just warm enough to keep it frozen, deadening the sound all around. I remember that, and the shock as I remembered and felt, of all things, love and longing.

The story’s not really about snow, of course–it’s about isms. Racism, imperialism, collaboration… ism. But in case there’s anyone out there, right now, writing and wondering Why am I doing This?, I thought I’d cast a little light on this side-perk of the creative process.


Support my fiction by tipping at Curious!

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I set up at Curious Fictions just after Patreon tried to change its funding model, in a way that adversely affected many of my friends and colleagues. Donor-funded artists benefit from a diverse crowdfunding ecosystem, and I like the way Curious Fictions works. You can read any of my stories for free and, if you wish, set up an account and offer a tip. If you want to be first to hear about my new offerings, you can subscribe–pay as little as a dollar a month, and you’ll get at least a story a month, and my endless thanks.

My previous Curious Fictions offering is a time travel story, “Three Times over the Falls.”