Posts Tagged ‘Uncanny’

EP489: Uncanny


by James Patrick Kelly
read by Dani Cutler

author James Partick Kelly
author James Partick Kelly

about the author…

James Patrick Kelly is an American science fiction writer born April 11, 1951, in Mineola, New York. He began selling science fiction professionally in the mid-1970s, and has subsequently become one of the field’s leading writers of short fiction.

He has won the Hugo Award twice, for his 1995 novelette “Think Like A Dinosaur” and for his 1999 novelette “Ten to the Sixteenth to One.” His 2005 novella “Burn” won the Nebula Award. His novels include Freedom Beach (1986, with John Kessel), Look Into the Sun (1989), and Wildlife (1994). Also with John Kessel, he co-edited the anthologies Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology (2006), Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology (2007), and The Secret History of Science Fiction (2009).

A prolific teacher, Kelly has taught at most of the major science-fiction writing workshops, including Clarion, Clarion West, Viable Paradise, and Odyssey. Since 1998, he has served on the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts; he chaired the council in 2004. He is the Vice Chair of the Clarion Foundation, which oversees the Clarion Science Fiction Workshop; he has served on the Board of Directors of the New England Foundation for the Arts; and he is currently on the faculty of the Stonecoast Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine. He also writes a column about SF on the internet for Asimov’s SF.

 

narrator Dani Cutler
narrator Dani Cutler

about the narrator…

Dani Cutler last narrated for EP in 454: Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One. She has been part of the podcasting community since 2006, hosting and producing her own podcast through 2013. She currently works for KWSS independent radio in Phoenix as their midday announcer, and also organizes a technology conference each year for Phoenix residents to connect with others in the podcast, video, and online community.

 

Uncanny
by James Patrick Kelly

A month after I broke up with Jonathan, or Mr. Wrong, as my mother liked to call him, she announced that she’d bought me a machine to love. She found it on eBay, paid the Buy It Now price and had it shipped to me the next day. I’m not sure where she got the idea that I needed a machine or how she picked it out or what she thought it would do for me. My mother never asked advice or permission. I dreaded finding the heavy, flat box that UPS left propped against my front door.

I called her. “It’s here. So what does it do?”

“Whatever you want.”

“I don’t want anything.”

“You always say that, but it’s never true. We all want something.” I hated it when she was being patient with me. “Just give it a chance, honey. They’re more complicated than men,” she said, “but cleaner.”

I muscled it into the foyer. I retrieved the box cutter from Jonathan’s neurotically tidy toolbox and sliced carefully through the packing tape. I decided that I’d try it, but I also intended to send the thing back, so I saved the bubble wrap and styrofoam.

There was no manual. The assembly instructions were in twelve pictographs printed on either side of a glossy sheet of paper. They showed a stick figure woman with a black circle for a head building the machine. Black was just how I felt as I attached the arms and headlights, fit the wheels and drawers into place. It stood five feet, eleven and three quarter inches tall; I measured. I had to give Mom credit; she knew quality when she saw it. The shiny parts were real chrome and there was no flex to the titanium chassis, which was painted glossy blue, the exact blue of Jonathan’s eyes. It smelled like the inside of a new car. I realized too late that I should have assembled it closer to the wall, I had to plug the charger into an extension cord. The power light flashed red; the last pictograph showed the stick figure woman staring at a twenty-four hour clock, impatience squiggles leaping from her round, black head.

I didn’t sleep well that night. My bed seemed very big, filled with Jonathan’s absence. I had a nightmare about the dishwasher overflowing and then I was dancing with the vacuum cleaner in a warm flood of soapy water.

When I came home from work the next day the machine was fully charged and was puttering about the apartment with my dusting wand, which I never used. It had loaded the dishes into the dishwasher and run it. There were vacuum tracks on the living room rug. I found the packing materials it had come with bundled into the trash; it had broken down its cardboard box for recycling. At dinner time, it settled at the other end of the kitchen table, dimmed its headlights and waited while I ate my Weight Watchers Chicken Mesquite microwave dinner. Later we watched The Big Bang Theory together. I thought it wanted to follow me into the bedroom when I was ready to go to sleep, but I turned at the door and pointed at the hall closet. It flashed its brights and rolled obediently away. (Continue Reading…)

Interview with Uncanny Editors


Uncanny Kickstarter
Uncanny Kickstarter

1) It was last year that Lynne and Michael stepped down as editors at Apex. Now, suddenly, Uncanny. Was Uncanny always the plan, or was it just that hard to stop editing having once started?

It was just hard to stop. We took time off for our daughter’s spinal fusion surgery. Her recovery went well, and we felt the need to scratch that editorial itch again. We love this community, and we were anxious to get back in the game!

2) I notice that most of the editing team is spread pretty far out, but also all are members of at least one Whovian club. Would Uncanny exist without Doctor Who?

I think we can safely say that Uncanny would not exist without Doctor Who. Lynne’s editorial career began with co-editing Chicks Dig Time Lords with Tara O’Shea. If it hadn’t won a Hugo, Lynne might not have been offered the editorial position at Apex Magazine. Michael’s editorial career also started at Mad Norwegian Press, the publisher of the “Dig” books like his Queers Dig Time Lords and many other Doctor Who nonfiction books. We met Deborah Stanish (a Chicks Dig Time Lords essayist), Steven Schapansky, and Erika Enisgn through Doctor Who conventions. Erika, Deb, and Lynne are now all members of the Hugo-nominated Verity! Doctor Who podcast. Though we didn’t initially meet Managing Editor Michi Trota at a Doctor Who convention, Michael did meet her on a Doctor Who panel at a general SF/F where he found out that she was a fan of the “Dig” books, and Lynne got to know her better at a local Doctor Who convention, Chicago TARDIS. So yes, Doctor Who had more than a tiny role, if only in bringing us into contact with excellent, intelligent people with whom we enjoy interacting. They get our jokes!

3) Follow up: Which Doctor is best Doctor? Each editor may answer separately and weapons are permitted.

Michael: Sylvester McCoy. All arguments against him are wrong. Lynne: I don’t go with “best” because what’s the metric for that? Splendid chaps, all of them. Sylvester McCoy made me a fan of the series, but I would rather travel with David Tennant to the ends of the universe. I’d travel with Tennant and Ace together, given my druthers. Emo AND explosions!

4) As a better/less stupid follow-up question: What are the challenges of working as a team while separated by physical distance, international borders, and possibly time zones, and how have you (or how will you) overcome them?

Lynne and Michael live in the same house, so that’s easy. Luckily, pretty much everything we do for the magazine is done online. Thanks to email, Skype, Twitter, and Google Docs, we can accomplish everything asynchronously without physically seeing each other. Occasionally we even use this thing called a “telephone” if we have no other choice. Once in a while, we even get together in person when we can manage it. (Continue Reading…)