the fifth season: storm before the calm


A mostly irrelevant first instalment exists.

An aerial steam train winds across
the Kangaroo Valley skyline
with interstellar Célia and
a nameless human on board.

On the ground, a stray sheep comments:
looks like a little smoky weather on the way,
and high above,
like a Canterbury pilgrim conglomerate,
Célia tells her tales.

The library planet is factual and fictional
with staircased mountains, stratified and bookish.
All its time’s mechanical, its hours
ratchet round the sky,
with the sun a tired spotlight
illuminating enumerated sectors,
in rows and columns,
a neglected textual matrix.

As each modality is bathed in light,
there’s an instant replay, knotted moments
in the
threads of galactic history:

  • on ancient Mars
    a brilliant goal in penalty time
    from a kilometer out.
  • a median battle in a middle ages,
    hatred scraping metal on bones.
  • discourse on the logicks
    of computational thought,
    the shining march of symmetry,
    no better and no worse.

When the beam sweeps up the dusty aisle
of intelligent crustaceans,

tock tick, clock click,
a regrettable newscast plays.

The crayfish baked themselves in minutes,
nuclear bombs from A to Z
that put trinitrotoluene to shame.

The survivors fled to a moon they called ‘Moon 1’
and redecorated
with artificial coastlines,

syncrete rocks and carbon fiber seaweed.

An interspecies lesson
for humanity to learn from,
and he’s not listening
to a solitary word.

He’s focussed on that couple
two rows down
discussing rollerblades.
I might as well be speaking Klingon.

When we’re back in Bankstown,
I’m going to detonate
a temporal implosion bomb.
It will draw in time like honey
and suspend your animation,
a holiday in stasis—
forty years
for you to contemplate
your shortcomings.

So tell me darling, is that a good idea?

… a … fascinating … story.
Crayfish are so cute.
I’m going to buy a pair of rollerblades.

To be continued. Unfortunately this piece stretched after I washed it and hung it out to dry. The first part is here.

I used the little WordPress searchette and discovered that stacks of my characters don’t pay attention. I’m sure it has nothing to do with me—I’m always attentive—or any of the small number of people who’ve dozed off while I was talking to them. Seriously, no more than a dozen or so.

Klingon and Syncrete might be trademarks of their respective companies. ‘Respective’ is a great word, it sounds official and doesn’t help.

lost planet imagery (example above): the twelve extant originals are part of the library’s collection. The planet is thought to have been merely misplaced and may turn up eventually between the cushions of an interstellar sofa.

mithical mithila
My poem “When We Were Young” has appeared in issue 9 of Mithila Review, and is freely available on-line here with a reading (audio). Mithila is an international speculative arts and culture magazine publishing speculative poetry, fantasy and science fiction from around the world. It’s available on Amazon and elsewhere. Continues →

23 thoughts on “the fifth season: storm before the calm

    • Thank you Clarissa. I was happy with it, a kind old fashioned look, but then who knows how long the planet’s been lost? 😃 I have doubts about “moral tales” in general but I thought it was probably okay for a know-it-all alien. 👽

    • In my defense, I think I’ve improved in that aspect. At some point I realized that I didn’t know everything because solving the Boltzmann Equation with a Fokker-Planck collision operator isn’t everything. Also life has a particular way of thinking, viz, “He hasn’t caught on yet, he needs a few more lessons.” 🤓

  1. That’s a great landscape you’ve created there Steve. Would love to tour the library to view the twelve.

    I’ll also look forward to the temporal implosion bomb, but only if I get the time.

    • Hahaha, me too. I like the way you think Frank, thanks. There are libraries that I love, especially the ones where you need the GPS on your phone to find your way out.

      I’m imagining time preserved in jars like honey. You store it waiting at the bus stop, on plane trips, whenever you’re bored, and you use it later when you need it. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Oh wait on, yes it is. 😜

    • Thank you Paul. Hard to imagine life on other planets out there. I always wind up with humans disguised as aliens, and I don’t think I’m the only one, although I have read the odd story with an alien twist, some by China Miéville come to mind. 👽

  2. Trinitrotoluene?? Do I need to go back to school? 🙂 And this rings all too true of late: “hatred scraping metal on bones.” Those artificial coastlines sound very depressing. I’d better hurry up and visit my favorite beach while I can. Another brilliantly original prophetic piece. Thank heavens for roller blades…

  3. Pingback: the fifth season: eponymous | inconstant light

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