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On strangeness: my guest post at Locus Online

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A whole lot of cool things happened last week, and thanks to that wonderful combination of too busy and too tired, I didn’t get to do much more about them then chirp enthusiastically on Twitter. Thus this week will bring a series of blog posts about events a week old or more. I ask y’all’s patience in bearing with me.
 
locusonline2008eFirst up, I want to express my gratitude to Alvaro Zinos-Amaro for inviting me to write a guest post about short fiction for Locus Roundtable at Locus Online (clicky to read). I chose, essentially, to write about how, without any particular plans to do so, I seem to have become one of our genre’s Stewards of the Strange, both in the projects I edit and the stories I write:
 

It’s hard to put my finger on a starting point. My fascination with the movie and then the book The Lathe of Heaven? The way I loved L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door even more than A Wrinkle in Time? The morbid childhood freak-outs caused not just by Poe, Lovecraft and King, but Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”, Jackson’s “One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts”, Disch’s “Descending”? The thrills I got from the boundary-pushing stories in The Books of Blood?

 
And of course I tied it all into my forthcoming short story collection, Unseaming, and dropped a hint or two about Clockwork Phoenix, too.
 
Writing this post was fun and actually made me realize a couple things about my writing that I’d never assembled consciously before. My thanks to Anita and to Dominik Parisien, Mari Ness and Virginia Mohlere for helping me get my mind around the topic.
 
#SFWApro
 

Originally published at DESCENT INTO LIGHT: Mike Allen’s Home Page. You can comment here or there.

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On September 22nd, 2014 04:20 pm (UTC), time_shark replied:
You are awesome.
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On September 22nd, 2014 05:00 pm (UTC), sovay commented:
The way I loved L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door even more than A Wrinkle in Time?

I do too, you know.

*off to read the rest*
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On September 22nd, 2014 05:05 pm (UTC), time_shark replied:
Why am I not surprised?
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On September 22nd, 2014 05:14 pm (UTC), sovay replied:
Why am I not surprised?

I wrote about it a little in 2012, but mostly about Mr. Jenkins.
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On September 22nd, 2014 05:23 pm (UTC), time_shark replied:
That's a cool piece.

I've never revisited the book, I think because I don't want memories of it ruined by adult perspective, heh.

Edited at 2014-09-22 05:42 pm (UTC)
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On September 22nd, 2014 05:44 pm (UTC), sovay replied:
I've never revisited the book, I think because I don't want memories of it ruined by adult perspective, heh.

I've found it really holds up. A Swiftly Tilting Planet didn't, entirely, which saddened me.
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On September 22nd, 2014 05:46 pm (UTC), time_shark replied:
You know, even as a kid I didn't get into A Swiftly Tilting Planet. The magic of the first two books wasn't there for me.
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On September 22nd, 2014 06:05 pm (UTC), sovay replied:
The magic of the first two books wasn't there for me.

I liked it a lot as a kid: the time travel, the patterns repeating, the history-changing, the science fantastic unicorns; Patrick's rune and Mrs. O'Keefe placing herself between the world and the powers of darkness. That last still resonates powerfully with me, and the chapter that is written from the perspective of her brother Chuck, brain-damaged, time-dislocated, opening his mouth to tell his sister he loves her and hearing himself blurt out instead one more crazy thing about Gedder and Bran and Zillah, is scarily poetic and more apocalyptic than anything else in the book, including the threat of nuclear war.

the world
it's tilting
it's going too fast
I'm going to fall


All the stuff about blue eyes for peace . . . not so much. I suspect there is also a lot of problematic characterization of Native Americans that I wouldn't have been able to parse in elementary school, but was starting to be able to sense in college or whenever I last read the book. And I did not care that Meg is pregnant and serving as Charles Wallace's anchor in time for this one story, but since it's more or less the last we see of her as a major character in the series, in retrospect I became a lot less all right with it.

A Wind in the Door, however, is still numinous and uncanny and mythic and horrific and just a very beautiful thing. In seventh grade I learned how mitochondria really work and it didn't blow the book for me. It's the one I've re-read most as an adult. I still haven't been disappointed.
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On September 22nd, 2014 06:18 pm (UTC), time_shark replied:
I am glad to know this about Wind in the Door.

Re: Planet, I remember getting fidgety during the historical scenes and longing for a cherubim or winged centaur to turn up and unbog the story. It's been a while (a looooooong while) so I don't think I can elaborate beyond that.
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