"TAIGA" in the April 2019 Digest

I’ll let Editor John Benson explicate the premise of his poetry and fiction digest:

Not One of Us is about people (or things) out of place in their surroundings, outsiders, social misfits, aliens in the SF sense—anyone excluded from society for whatever the reason. We’d like Not One of Us to consider the problem of “otherness” from every possible fictional angle: horror, SF, fantasy, noir, slipstream, Western, mainstream, whatever.
The editorial philosophy of the magazine reflects my own personal taste in genre fiction. To me the scariest and most deeply moving horror stories are not about monsters or about good vs. evil, but rather about the reader’s own fears and discomforts. Similarly, for Not One of Us, fantasy isn’t about pseudo-medieval worlds, science fiction isn’t about space opera or funny-sounding names, Westerns are not about gunfights. In our magazine, it’s all about the characters.
We crave characters (human or otherwise) who are different and who act the way they do out of plausible (if occasionally insane) motives. All the wondrous settings and complex plots in the world will fail to convince me if at the center of the tale there isn’t a protagonist with whom I can somehow empathize. I don’t have to like that character: heaven knows we’ve had some pretty nasty protagonists, and empathy is not the same as excuse-making. But I want to get some insight into the character, and vicariously into myself. Also, I like stories, and characters, with edge.” –John Benson, Editor

You may obtain a copy of Not One of Us, Digest # 61, April, 2019 at https://not-one-of-us.pub/about/subscribe/

Poetry and Fiction Digest #61 (2019)
Published April 2019
Theme: Another World
“Everyone in this issue seems to end up in another world. We have one woman living in two realities, another transported to another planet where she is small but determined to survive, a man who accidentally designs a nightmare for all, and a reluctant leader who enforces a hard alternative to being consumed. And more…a choice between futile faith and futile science, a trip between two continents, parts grown to replace parts, books as tombs, words as souls, and boys earning a copper while death is on his way.”
Chokecherry Lounge, by Linda Lea Wiley
The Three Mothers (poem), by Gemma Files
Waiting Room (poem), by Holly Day
Eight Affirmations for the Revolting Body, Confiscated from the Prisoners of Bunk 17, by Gordon B. White
The Corpse Boys (prose poem), by Christopher Collingwood
        Taiga, by Lisa Mason
        A Book Is a Tomb and Words Are Souls (poem), by Holly Lyn Walrath
Clone Cinquians (poem), by SP Mulroy
Nightmare Designer, by Brent Parkes
All’s Well (poem), by Neal Wilgus
Grow Me a Field of Lilies (poem), by Elisa Subintaigapage
The moody black-and-white line illustrations for the cover and for “Taiga” are by John Stanton.
Check it out at https://not-one-of-us.pub/about/subscribe/!

--Tell us about “Taiga.”
Taiga” is the story of Katarina Malkovich, an immigrant from Lithuania to the U.S. who becomes a trained NASA astronaut. NASA prefers people with professional scientific degrees, and Katarina is a psychiatrist. She’s en route on a space shuttle with an international crew bound on a routine mission to the International Space Station when the shuttle shudders—and they’re sucked through a near-space black hole to another universe.
Confronting an unknown constellation of stars, she and the crew find themselves orbiting above a huge frozen planet with evidence of an environmental catastrophe. Their shuttle crash-lands—and Katarina confronts an alien. An alien twenty times bigger than she is.
Juxtaposed with Katarina’s dire predicament (will the huge alien imprison her? slaughter and eat her?) and her urgent need to communicate with the alien are her memories of when she was sixteen and living Lithuania. She befriended the thirty-year-old distant cousin of her mother, Alex, a refugee from war-torn Ukraine deeply disturbed by a suppressed trauma. Her tragic interaction with Alex becomes a touchstone for her life to come.
No more plot spoilers! That’s a lot of plot for a 6,000-word story! And alien-ness on several levels.

--What research did you do?
“Taiga” has several components or plot lines, and each required research on my part to give the story the necessary veracity.
First, there’s Katarina’s birthplace and place of upbringing, Vilnius, Lithuania. I researched the streets, the look of the town, the weather, the food.
Then there’s Alex’s life and experience in the Ukraine. His folksong about Taiga.
Katarina studies psychiatry, in particular post-traumatic stress syndrome and mental disorders caused by PTSS.
Then Katarina becomes an NASA astronaut. I researched what she would have to do to qualify, what NASA is looking for in scientists who aren’t necessarily career astronauts. What a mission to the International Space Station entails and where the rocket is launched.
That’s several weeks' worth of research for a 6,000 word story!

--What was your inspiration for the story?

I appreciate SF stories that explore the inner space of humanity, rather than the outer space of the universe with space ships, space travel, ship’s captains, and the like. So I prefer stories that delve into psychology rather than rocketry.
In “Taiga” I got to do both.
But more than that, believe it or not, I was thinking about the adoption of our Angora-Siamese cat, Athena a few years ago. And of our other cats, and of people’s pets in general.
I mean, think about it: a kitten or puppy is with her mother, her litter mates. Then, without warning, she is whisked away from the family she knows and taken by a huge creature—that would be you or me—and placed in a strange cavern—your house or mine.
The kitten or puppy doesn’t know your intentions, whether you mean her harm or good. Maybe you offer food that she doesn’t like or can’t eat. And the kitten or puppy can’t communicate with you, not really. Not at first. You speak in abstract sounds that to her have no meaning.
Only through a learning process can she discern your intentions and your wishes for her.
I ratcheted that up one or two fantasy levels to a human placed in a similar situation and let Katarina figure out how to survive.

You may obtain of Not One of Us, Digest # 61 at https://not-one-of-us.pub/about/subscribe/ Please support this excellent digest!

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Lisa Mason, the Fantasy and Science Fiction Author

Home Author's Bio Books Stories


Books by Lisa Mason

ODDITIES: 22 Stories
Summer of Love The Gilded Age
The Garden of Abracadabra
One Day in the Life of Alexa
Arachne Cyberweb Spyder

Celestial Girl, A Lily Modjeska Mystery

Bast Collectible Books
Eon's Kiss (Book 1 of the Eon Trilogy) by Suzanna Moore

Stories, Novelettes, Screenplays by Lisa Mason

Shaken Tomorrow's Child Hummers The Sixty-third Anniversary of Hysteria
Every Mystery Unexplained Daughter of the Tao
Tesla, A Screenplay U F uh-O
My Charlotte: Patty's Story
"The Bicycle Whisperer" in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
"Taiga" in Not One of Us Digest and Interview about "Taiga"

Interviews, Reviews, Storybundles, Blogs, Next Thing

"Anything For You" Interview with The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Interview for "Riddle" in the September-October 2017 Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
The Story Collection Storybundle
The Artificial Intelligence Storybundle
Time Travel Blogs with Laura Vosika 4 to 5
Chats About Writing with Ryan Schneider (1) Chats About Writing with Ryan Schneider (2)

Ryan Schneider Chats with Lisa Mason About The Garden of Abracadabra

Keep Fit, Keep Writing: A Roundtable with Kevin J. Anderson, Lisa Mason and Linda Nagata (Part 2: Chow Down!)
Festivale Interview
"Aurelia" Interview with F and SF Magazine "The Bicycle Whisperer" Interview with F and SF Magazine
The Next Thing
NFReads.com Interview

Art, Jewelry, and Mobiles by Tom Robinson

Art by Tom Robinson
"Aether", The New Painting by Tom Robinson
Tom Robinson's Bio

Cats, Past and Present


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