04 May 2009
Bryophytes and grandmothers and many other things
Bryophytes remind me of my grandmother. She always insisted that she liked burnt toast. They are so tough and uncomplaining that if they were human, they'd bathe with a teacup of water and think they were luxuriating.
"I'm crazy about cryptogams," rolls off the tongue easier, but I cannot lie to you. Cryptogam, though a word as romantic and mysterious as a monogrammed scrap of silk, includes those other delicate non-flowers, the ferns. Lovely to look at when they're happy, but with rare exceptions, if they don't get their slatherings of moisturiser and flattering dimmed light, watch out! There's nothing your average born-to-be-coddled fern likes better than to die flamboyantly enough to cause another guilt.
It's the bryophytes amongst the cryptogams—fungi, lichen and algae—that really get my awe. They understand the value of wrinkles, the character-building virtues of starvation—and they get drunk (and spectacularly beautiful) on a drop.
These tough lovelies were photographed today, a week after a few rare showers camouflaged our drought.
I've just updated the Anna Tambour and Others site, and the peek at the upcoming Lovecraft Unbound inspired another picture of cryptogams.
Amongst the Others, a quote and link to Giles Watson's delightful poems about their secret lives. (Giles, I'd love it if you responded here with another inspired work—and possibly other poets, too?)
Also, and very apropos in this day of "not enough face masks" is Charles Tan's short story "A Retrospective on Diseases for Sale", a reprint with permission from the newest edition of Philippine Speculative Fiction, edited by Dean Francis Alfar and Nikki Alfar, an anthology so good that if you are still with me, let's go down a different road:
This series stays fresh and unexpected. In this issue, No IV, I liked Charles' "A Retrospective on Diseases for Sale" (and how apropos now!). that I asked to pinch it for my own site.
The first story in the book, Andrew Drilon's "The Secret Origin of Spin-Man" caught me by surprise in all the best ways, even to a frisson that made me feel like what a steak must, the moment it hits a grill. This story should win some international prize and I hope it's anthologised. I was obliviously impolite, I was so noisy, while reading Monique Francisco's "The Day that Frances, the Copywriter, Became God". Even thinking of it now makes me smile, and I hope to read much more by her. This story does confirm something I first thought while writing Spotted Lily. There are many paths to becoming God.
So again with this anthology, I think it's a bloody shame that international postal charges are so great that the feasability of this having international distribution has never been seriously considered. But this is what the average anthology is. A clubhouse print run and fuckall distribution even in the home country, if Australia is typical. There are many anthologies that should be read internationally, and translated so that they can be read. Turkey, for instance, frustrates me no end. Thriving anthologies and magazines packed with tempting stories, but they're not only in Turkish, but only available in Turkey. Then there's Finland, and another thriving 'community' of readers, and writers. It would be great if there were more stories from everywhere that us people everywhere could read. It's a bummer for everyone else that the default language is English, but couldn't we have some place where there were reprints in the original language, and a translation into English and possibly other languages? If there were an online portal for anthologies that have already sold out, then sales wouldn't be impacted, and possibly sales would increase if there were a place on the portal to subscribe or pre-buy the next volume of, say, Trevidiumskolania's Best Speculative Fiction 2080.
And the road turns
Other irresistibles on the updated Anna Tambour and Others site include a chance to interfere with Marianne Delacourt's newest creation, Tara Sharp, one fast, funny tough babe who drives a car from hoon; a link to a bittersweet true story by Nathan Ballingrud that would qualify for my Love Letters from D_____s except for the lucky-to-us fact that he shared it publicly; an after-picture of the creator of Emma's dress—And the only site in the world that says:
"Ittibittium Houbrick, 1993 (mollusc) These are smaller than molluscs of the genus Bittium."
Go get fascinated.