the phantasms of tocantins


My short story The Phantasms of Tocantins has appeared at Sci Phi Journal, and Phantasms is now free to read on-line.

In Sci Phi Journal, science fiction and philosophy meet and mingle in interesting ways. All the stories have a write-up about their philosophical underpinnings at the end, and with Phantasms it’s about time, one of my favorite topics.

The geographical setting for the piece is real world with a few minor tweaks. Confusion Lake and Paraíso are both in the Brazilian state of Tocantins, and Paraíso’s Worldwide Screws and Tools store became Oliveira’s Hardware for plausibility. A random factoid (so useful for trivia nights) is that tocantin in the Tupi language means ‘toucan beak,’ and the state is named that way because the confluence of two rivers on the state’s border forms a toucan beak shape. The colors within the body of the state are less like a toucan, at least on my map.

Phantasms makes reference to Harry Bates, who wrote the short story that the movie ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ was based on, and Gort, of Klaatu barada nikto fame, but apart from that I can’t identify any specific sci fi sources for the piece.

The story does have a lot of snippets from real life in it though—bus trips, motels, carnivals in Brazil, gold prospecting, people I’ve met and so on. I only realized how many there were when I reread it—events I’d forgotten about that had automagically appeared in the story. It makes perfect sense of course, fiction has to come from somewhere.

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