“Seven Conversations in Locked Rooms” accepted at The Memory Eater anthology

April 10, 2012


Yay for second chances!

Last year I wrote and submitted a story called “The Take” to The Memory Eater anthology. The concept of anthology revolves around the device known as the Memory Eater. This technology is capable of deleting specific memories from one’s brain. Who would use such a device and for what purpose? There are many different stories that can be told based on this prompt.

“The Take” made it all the way into the final round of consideration but was ultimately rejected (although the editor told me it was a close call). I edited out the Memory Eater references and sent it to Daily Science Fiction, where it was accepted and published recently.

At some point in the editorial process, C.P. discovered that he had room for one more tale. So he reached out to me, asking if I would like to take another stab at the prompt. The catch? Whatever story I wrote had to match up with an illustration he had already acquired for use in the anthology. I was up to the challenge, and a few weeks later “Seven Conversations in Locked Rooms” was born. It’s a 1600-word SF story of a man willing to pay a tremendous price in order *not* to have his memories removed via the Memory Eater.

Want to know more? Pick up a copy of this anthology next month. Better yet, you can support their Kickstarter campaign, which is going on right now.


“The Take” now live at DSF

March 19, 2012

For those of you who aren’t e-mail subscribers (shame on you!), “The Take” is now live on the Daily Science Fiction web site and can be read by following this link.

RealFeel Technology Implications

March 13, 2012

Warning: The following post contains spoilers about “The Take.” If you haven’t read it yet, you may want to avoid reading further until you do. 

Since “The Take” was e-mailed out by DSF yesterday, I received a lot of wonderful feedback. Some people loved the story, some hated it (as is always the fact with such things), some enjoyed it overall but had issues with certain aspects of it. 

Several readers took issue with the main character claiming that no one would want to watch movies or plays once RealFeel recordings became available. Dani Atkinson sent me a wonderful e-mail which, while critical of this aspect of the story, was an amazing examination of possible uses for RealFeel as it pertains to the arts. With Dani’s permission, I’m quoting it in full:

 Just received and read The Take. It fascinated me, but kinda frustrated me too. See, the story has the line “Who would bother to watch another movie or play, after that?” Which would make sense on the face of it, except…

Why would anyone read a book, when they could see it acted out in a play?

Why would anyone watch a play, now that there are movies?

Why would anyone watch a movie, now that there are video games?

But people DO. See, old art forms NEVER GO AWAY. They offer different experiences, that people seek out at different times and for different reasons.

And all I could think of while reading this story of this failed actor was how this technology would have REVOLUTIONIZED acting, instead of killing it.

Have you ever acted? In say, community theatre? It’s an incredible high. The adrenaline rush is every bit as intense as climbing a mountain. How many people dream of being actors? Who WOULDN’T pay top dollar for the chance to feel what it’s like to be a Broadway legend or a star of the silver screen?

And the really hardcore method actors, the ones who make a point of forcing themselves to really feel what the character feels, living the role from the inside out… I could see those guys as both the RealFeel’s biggest customers AND some of the biggest content generators.

This could bring live theatre from the audience perspective to dizzying new heights as well. For decades it’s been lamented that recordings can never truly capture the experience of live theatre. What if they could? I would have sold ORGANS for the chance to be in the audience at Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan’s “Waiting for Godot.” I would happily shell out cash for a RealFeel recording from somebody who was.

And as for movies… my god. Just… My god…

Can you fathom… can you IMAGINE… if every single time you watched Star Wars… was your VERY FIRST TIME?

I could see parents sitting their kids down to watch timeless classics, and strapping those things to their heads so they would always be able to recapture that glorious first experience. Until the copyright lawyers finally caught up and banned the practice.

Hell, I could see filmmakers deliberately selecting an audience of people that they knew were exactly the sort to be thrilled to pieces by whatever film they’re peddling in order to make and sell their OWN RealFeel recordings.

It could be a whole new format. The RealFeel edition. “Star Wars IV: A New Hope, As Watched By an Enthralled Ten Year Old Child.” “Artsy Classic That You Always Felt Guilty For Not Enjoying As Much As You Thought You Should, As Enjoyed By An Intellectual Film Historian And Critic Who Is Totally Geeking Out”

I could see some filmmakers refusing to release movies in anything BUT RealFeel, once they had a taste of that level of control over an audience’s responses and experiences. That could get creepy pretty fast. And conversely you’d get the rebel filmmakers who are all retro and refuse to have anything to do with RealFeel and it’d be like the current 3D or not 3D debates except more so.

Heh. So, the story fascinated me enough that I tracked your blog down so I could argue at you, but it felt like a bit of a missed opportunity. In my personal canon, I’m pretty much deciding that the protagonist in The Take is using Charlie Tan as a convenient excuse for why his career never took off, and willfully ignoring the actors who are doing just fine in a post RealFeel age. 😛

Dani’s assumption is pretty spot on. When writing this story I imagined the main character as a bit of a failure–he didn’t succeed in his career as an actor, and is also very low on the totem pole as RealFeel recording artist–which is why he’s involved in the third-rate production described.

The main character blames others for his problems, but this is him speaking and not the author. I don’t think future entertainment technologies (RealFeel? Holodeck?) will eliminate the need for books, plays and other pre-existing art forms for much the same reasons quoted above.

Also, it sounds like there will be a podcast version of “The Take” in a few months. I won’t go into details until this is finalized, but I’m thrilled that there are folks out there who liked the story well enough to want to produce it.

Publication: “The Take” in Daily Science Fiction

March 11, 2012




Those of you who subscribe to e-mails from Daily Science Fiction will receive my flash SF story “The Take” late tonight. Subscription is free, so you should sign up! And if you’re one of those holdouts who don’t like receiving free, awesome stories via e-mail, you’ll be able to read this story on DailyScienceFiction.com in one week.

“The Take” was inspired by the “Memory Eater” anthology. Although the story made it to the final round of consideration there, they ultimately passed on it. I made minor changes to remove references to the Memory Eater technology and sent the updated version of the story to Daily Science Fiction. I love DSF to death and they are almost always the first to see my stories, so I was thrilled to have “The Take” accepted there.

But wait, there’s more.

There’s a supporting character in the story named Charlie Tan. It wasn’t until after the story was accepted at DSF that I realized that my character shares a name with a well-known SF blogger Charles A. Tan. The editors at DSF realized this too, and wanted to know whether the reference was intentional.

My first instinct was to change the character’s name. But the more I thought about it, the more amused I became by the coincidence. So instead of changing the name, I reached out to Mr. Tan and asked his permission to leave it in. He was amenable to the idea and has officially become the first person to be tuckerized in one of my stories.

So read “The Take” and, if you enjoyed it, be sure to stop by the DSF Facebook page and leave a comment. Because I almost always have another submission in their slush pile, and a well-received story can’t possibly hurt 🙂