New Flash Story: “Stowaways”


I have a flash fiction piece about art and memes out in Lightspeed Magazine today: “Stowaways.” It’s in the form of a pretentious gallery description card. You know, the thing you have to lean close to the wall and squint at to read, that gives you a semi-enlightening, semi-inscrutable short history of the attached painting or other artwork. This one, however, has a creepy twist.

I wrote the first version of this several years ago when I was solicited by someone putting together a compendium of ‘impossible works of art.’ I came up with three, this being the weirdest. One of the other ideas birthed my Pushcart Prize-nominated story “Black Ice City,” published in Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters.

The idea of “nucleated” and “unnucleated” brains hosting “memetic intelligences” however goes back to a novel idea I had as a wee college student way back in 2007, when I was studying abroad in Kalimpong, India. The story was about Memento-memoried people living in cloud cities on Venus, waiting for in limbo while a centuries-long terraforming process unfolded. I’m still amazed at how many ideas I had that fall, when I had no easy access to TV or internet and spent most of my time drinking chai, journaling, and staring out at the rolling, foggy Himalayan foothills. The title of that never-written novel (which, who knows, maybe I’ll one day write) was Float, which in this story lends its name to the future artist who created Stowaways.

I’m quite fond of this weird little story, and I’m very glad that (after racking up many, many rejections) it has finally found a home.