Alternative Science Fiction
I’m not in love with the term “alternative” but it works for me when I think about music–a different sound than what is usual for the mainstream media. Of course many a smart-aleck will say, “If the alternative music genre goes too mainstream, what do you call it then?” I call it evolution!
You see, the organizers of the mainstream (editors, producers, etc.) are doing their best to sell and sometimes that closes them to something that is really out there which may also sell. It’s OK. It’s a business. Everyone is doing their best. But if you’re tired of reading their vision of what is a great short story, try my favorite source of alternative science fiction: New Genre, a zine that comes out every so often, maybe twice a year, maybe less. Either way, the editor Adam Golaski looks for the most interesting stories in science fiction and horror that he can find, and like the magazine’s title hints, his taste runs to stories that focus on story and less on genre.
Issue Six recently came out and like every New Genre I’ve read, I read some fiction that I wouldn’t naturally seek out and find. It’s alternative. Like the bands They Might Be Giants, or Eels, I have to “hear” the tune before I realize it’s something I want.
“Jack the Satellite Jockey” by Michael Filimowicz reads like a hard science fiction story filled with stats on satellites and rocketry but swerves into the realm of techno-shamanism. How the story subtly bridges these two ideas is very cool. The story takes place in orbit above Earth with Jack doing his job–repairing a satellite and we find out one of Jack’s hobbies is sometimes making “adjustments” to the data being beamed back to Earth.
“The Sparrow Mumbler” by Eric Schaller is in a fantasy setting and is about a man named John who has a really difficult job–he is supposed to try and swallow an angry sparrow whose leg is tied by a string to the top button of John’s shirt, and John’s hands are tied behind his back. And let me tell you, that sparrow is mean enough to John that PETA might be more concerned about the abuse to John’s face than to the indignity the sparrow feels.
If you think that science fiction short stories end with what you can find on you newsstand (Fantasy and Science Fiction, Asimovs, and Analog) visit the websites and buy a copy of other purveyors of science fiction stories such as New Genre. And by the way, those anthologies sitting on the right-side of this website contain a smorgasbord of fiction writers and literary styles too.