The day is dark I’m all alone If you are there Please let me know Please let me know
It is time to rest, brave one. Your father has been dead these seven years and now you must follow him into the Undiscovered Country. You have traveled far and seen many things no one else has ever seen; take your discoveries and images back to him with our gratitude. Thanks to you two we have walked among the stars, we have tread in red dust, we have touched the loneliness and vastness of space. Sleep now, faithful friend, and wait out the storm. Perhaps someone will find you one day and stir your cold heart, open your darkened eyes, but it will not be us. We will be long gone by then, a fading memory of a half-buried ruin in the sand fifty-four million kilometers from where you lay. Forgive us our trespasses, for we cannot forgive those who trespass against us. We have done much evil in our time, and even now we hasten our end, but at least we have done this one good thing. At least we birthed you and sent you forth to explore where we could not go. Stay safe, child of science and man’s yearning for knowledge. Dream great dreams. You are our legacy.
These days I find myself longing for Mars. Not like a Bradbury character yearning for adventure, though, but more like someone skipping to the last page of a tense book to see what happens. Why? Because Mars is dead. Mars is a barren wasteland. Mars is red soil and orange rocks and not a single living thing, not even a drop of water, and that’s oddly comforting. Earth will be like that one day at the rate we’re going, so can’t I just pack up now and move to Mars where the end’s already come and gone? It’s the waiting that’s killing me, you know, it’s the anticipation. I know one day all the green places will be buried under cement and the oceans are gonna swallow us up in their acidic, plastic-laden waters, but when? When will the last bee perish from pesticide poisoning and throw our global food production into chaos? When will the last day pass during which we could ever breathe freely without face masks? When will the last polar bear go extinct, the last Amazonian tree be bulldozed, the last national park fall to the greed of big coal and oil? When? When? I just can’t take it anymore; roll the damn credits! I’m out. But at least there’s nothing on Mars we can fuck up very much, just rocks and dirt and dust as far as the eye can see in every direction. And I won’t have any memory of trees on Mars, so the view won’t bother me so. It’s better than waiting, at least, better than having to sit on the sidelines of the whole damn apocalypse. Take us to Mars, Ray. To Mars!
Hand pressed to the thick glass, she watches as beyond the radiation shield the dark sky blooms with bright flowers trailing petals of fire, and though the glass dome seals out all sound she imagines she can still hear the screaming of those trapped outside. How many dead now, since the first bomb fell? Millions, perhaps tens of millions: those too close to the epicenters to escape; those who could not buy their way onto planes and ships and caravans and so perished somewhere along their thousand-mile trek to safety; those who arrived at the safe zones with nothing but the clothes on their backs, exhausted and sick with radiation poisoning, only to be told there was no room for them. “No room,” she scoffs, and tries not to weep. She’s only safe inside this shelter because she’s necessary to its function, as so few of her team remain who can run the machines and reboot civilization when it comes time. That’s why she’s in here, a young black woman among so many old white men, and thousands of equally worthy people are out there awaiting the end. And so she wonders – is there even a point to trying again? Will there be enough humanity left in humanity to make the struggle for civilization worthwhile? Or does this dome just ensure there are sufficient witnesses left to testify to the finality of the apocalypse? She doesn’t even know for sure if the machines will work – and maybe that’s best.
2017 wasn’t my best reading year ever; I blame that whole planning-a-wedding thing. Still, I managed to read a total of 65 books (okay, books AND comics), including 31 with queer characters or content and 42 by non-male authors. Also, I read Atlas Shrugged, which I think should be counted as a feat unto itself (it’s good! but also hella looooong).
Wilde Stories 2016: The Year’s Best Gay Speculative Fiction – ed. Steve Berman
Bedtime Stories for Cats – Leigh Anne Jasheway
Catfantastic Vol. 2 – Andre Norton and Martin Harry Greenburg
Catfantastic Vol. 3 – Andre Norton and Martin Harry Greenburg
Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics – Jason Porath
Your Magickal Cat: Feline Magic, Lore, and Worship – Gerina Dunwich
Great Speeches on Gay Rights – Ed. James Daley
Catfantastic Vol. 4 – Andre Norton and Martin Harry Greenburg
Catfantastic Vol. 5 – Andre Norton and Martin Harry Greenburg
Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
Heiresses of Russ 2016: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction – Ed. A M Dellamonica and Steve Berman
The King of the Cats and Other Feline Fairy Tales – ed. John Richard Stephens
The Tribe of Tiger – Elizabeth Marshall Thomas
Summer in Orcus – T. Kingfisher
Mystery Cats – ed. Lilian Jackson Braun & Patricia Highsmith
Toad Words and Other Stories – T. Kingfisher
The Moment of Change: An Anthology of Feminist Speculative Poetry – ed. Rose Lemberg
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke
A Song of War: A Novel of Troy – Stephanie Thornton et. al.
The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories – Susanna Clarke
Keeper of the Dawn – Dianna Gunn
Arcane Perfection – ed. Pat Mosley, et. al.
An Alphabet of Embers: An Anthology of Unclassifiables – ed. Rose Lemberg
Tailchaser’s Song – Tad Williams
A Year of Ravens: A Novel of Boudica’s Rebellion – E. Knight et. al.
Watership Down – Richard Adams
Jackalope Wives and Other Stories – T. Kingfisher
Paradise Lost – John Milton
The Wicked and the Divine, Book 5: Imperial Phase I – Kieron Gillen
Summerwode (The Wode Book 4) – J Tullos Hennig
The Miseducation of Cameron Post – Emily M Danforth
The First Time She Drowned – Kerry Kletter
Iron Peter: A Year in the Mythopoetic Life of New York City – Charles Ortleb
Lumberjanes Vol 1: Beware the Kitten Holy – Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Dreadnought: Nemesis Book 1 – April Daniels
The Price of Salt – Patricia Highsmith
Two Boys Kissing – David Levithan
Scourge of the Righteous Haddock – Ashley Schwellenbach
The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars Part 1 – Irene Koh et. al.
The Wheel Diver – Ashley Schwellenbach
Through the Woods – Emily Carroll
Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel – Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Lumberjanes Vol 2: Friendship to the Max! – Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Lumberjanes Vol 3: A Terrible Plan – Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Lumberjanes Vol 4: Out of Time – Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Mystery of the White Lions: Children of the Sun God – Linda Tucker
Lumberjanes Vol 5: Band Together – Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Lumberjanes Vol 6: Sink or Swim – Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
The Steel Remains (A Land Fit for Heroes) – Richard K. Morgan
A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat – Gwen Cooper
Journey from Yesterday – Roma Niles Burke
Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami – Gretel Erhlich
The Cold Commands (A Land Fit for Heroes) – Richard K. Morgan
The Dark Defiles (A Land Fit for Heroes) – Richard K. Morgan
Psychic Abilities for Beginners: Awaken Your Intuitive Senses – Melanie Barnum
How To Meet & Work with Spirit Guides – Ted Andrews
Mostly Void, Partially Stars: Welcome to Night Vale Episodes, Volume 1 – Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Master and Commander – Patrick O’Brian
The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe: Welcome to Night Vale Episodes, Volume 2 – Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Intuition: Knowing Beyond Logic – Osho
Post Captain – Patrick O’Brian
H.M.S Surprise – Patrick O’Brian
Yeshua’s Loom: A Tapestry of Cats (Yeshua’s Cats Book 5) – C L Francisco
I dreamed the kind of dream that makes you wish you could draw or were otherwise skilled in a visual art, because there’s no way words can adequately describe it. The dream took place in a militaristic, space-based empire of genetically advanced humans. In this empire, warriors and knights each had their own personal weapon which could be summoned at will (much like the gems in Steven Universe). The weapons were formed with a sort of black energy, which lent them additional versatility and destructive power. Warriors in higher military commands were also linked with their own starships (which looked like Ryo-Ohki from Tenchi Muyo). These ships existed primarily in an alternate but parallel dimension, but could be summoned into the main dimension when needed for battle; in fact, their ability to exist partially in both dimensions simultaneously made them ideal for large battles becauses they could fire on an enemy yet not be directly hit. (Imagine massive starships that can literally ghost through solid objects, such as buildings, to fire on the inhabitants.) Often the ships and weapons were used in honorable battle between knights, but also frequently for full warfare between the empire and dissidents. In addition, the most powerful warriors could also form an energy shield/aura called an ‘aspect storm’ (my brain borrowed the term from The Cold Commands by Richard Morgan) which, if the warrior was particularly skilled, could be controlled like a giant monster to do widespread damage.
In this dream, Tanim was the emperor’s son and being groomed to take his father’s place in the future. He was an admirable warrior with his own ship, and his personal weapon was a black lance that could be turned into a powerful longbow when battling aspect storms. At one point in the dream he stopped by a training session in which some of the best warriors were teamed up against a single man dressed all in black – I recognized him as Daren, though in the dream all Tanim knew was that the stranger was new to his father’s service. Despite being surrounded and outnumbered, Daren easily held command of the fight. His weapon, thin double blades that allowed him superb speed and range of motion, was somehow set to instantaneously cauterize any wound it created. In this way, Daren was able to deal legitimate injuries but the risk of killing someone in one blow was small. Still, he severed several fingers and at least one arm, and maimed others in ways that would permanently remove them from the emperor’s service. Tanim was certainly impressed (okay, and probably pretty turned on), and I think they ended up fighting together against a gigantic aspect storm later on. At any rate, there were lots of explosions and space battles and stuff, and it was awesome.
By the end of the dream I am an old woman, still walking proud and tall in this place of smaller beings, but wrinkled and tired nonetheless. As the suns set, I watch the children of our peoples’ union dart between the mud houses in play. They are growing up in a world where they are the minority, little half-breeds of two alien races, but here they are treated like the blessings they are. Back home, two universes away in a place to which we can never return, they would be hated and mistreated. Those of us who remain from the first colony remember the way hate’s seeds spread so easily through our species; that we did not bear them in our own hearts was why each of us were chosen for the worldjump.
Evening cools the hot, dry air of this desert planet, and the flattened dirt road retains just enough warmth to soothe my bare feet. I take a moment to pause and stare up at the sky, at the familiar constellations and circling moons that once felt so foreign and frightening. Now, they are a comfort. I think of those of us who have perished on this planet; do they look down on me, one of the very last, from their home in the heavens? Tears well in my eyes. I wish you were here, I plead to the beloved who was taken too early to witness this planet’s miracles. I wish you could see what we’ve created… I wish you could have known our children. I sink to my knees, weeping, my tears darkening the ground like the rain which never falls here. I miss you! I cry. I miss you so much, darling! You should be here; you should have shared all of our joys! I love this place. I love these creatures who have shown us a different way of living. But love does not replace the ones of my own species who are gone and never to return. I am one of the last. And my time is short.