ORTHOGONAL SF – I. The War at Home

“Not all wars are fought on the battlefield. From the Arctic ice to the front hall closet, from the depths of space to the laptop screen, discover the conflicts closer to home in the first five stories chosen during the first anonymous reading period at OrthogonalSF.net.”


Edited by John Bowker
Orthogonal SF 2016

Stories by Sarah L. Johnson, Michael J. DeLuca, Alana I. Capria, Douglas W. Milliken, Josh Pearce.

If I real-time review this first issue, my comments will be found in the thought stream below or by clicking on this post’s title above.

7 thoughts on “ORTHOGONAL SF – I. The War at Home

  1. The First Wife by Sarah L. Johnson

    A short short in the form of a letter with brutal implications, but one addressed from and to whom? If I answered that question, its spoiler incarnate would be at my door to punish me, I guess. Not sure of why and wherefore, and the exact implications, but it sure seems terrifying – as well as well written, I hasten to add.

  2. #Anon and the Antlers by Michael J. DeLuca

    “In early modern history, “anon” meant simply “later, wait.” Anonymous was an author of works expressing radical sentiment risking ostracization or imprisonment, accused of cowardice. But for ages before that, the same impulse followed higher motives. […] But in the second decade of the twenty-first century, when social media made everyone famous by default, obscurity became commodity, and a new, a third #Anon arose, paranoid as that of the seventeenth century, powerful as that of the first, and legion.”

    Forgive me for quoting so much, but it is not a spoiler so much as a trans-anonymisation of text. After all, I kept things anonymous for contra-spoiler’s sake in my comments about the first story above. But now we have antlers as antigens to replace anti-biotech (auto-correct), weeds as ‘wes’ (plural of ‘we’). This is cyberNETics in craven interface with Homer. Aaron / Anon. It is a highly complex treatise on nemonymity, I guess, strangulated with internecine codes and textured prose. My first rule of engagement when conducting a Dreamcatcher book review is to read something only once before commenting on it. I may read this one again in due course.
    I can tell already, though, that it is a significant, if difficult, work.
    I would be grateful for others’ views on it.

  3. Gelatin Molds by Alana I. Capria

    “The bad house should be the sort of house that has seafood at least four times a week in various caked and stuffed forms.”

    Another startlingly original story, this one with an obsessive incantatory refrain of ‘Gelatin’ appearing with its jiggling effects in a domestic situation as the wife prepares the refreshments for a suburban house party and her less than loving feelings for her husband., and all this added to the side effects of lubrication by the ‘Molds’ in interface with the overt sex of those invited to the party and the marital strains, leading to more than was bargained for…as well as leaving me with a manic earworm.

  4. Tootsie-Pop by Douglas W. Milliken

    “The nightly news guys conjectured as to the existence of an invisible vortex of microscopic space debris or antimatter bogs in orbit.”

    Well, there are some truly remarkable stories in this magazine, all chosen from an anonymous submission process, I understand. This one of the dads – seen with some lack of respect for their achievements by their addled peers, their children and wives — these dads being in a sort of cast lot of a tontine in amateur space travel, when one day they get bogged down in their ramshackle space station. What a mighty vision, this is, despite or because of that very ramshackleness. I can’t do it justice here, with its assholes feeding on assholes, aptly like the previous story’s Gelatin moulds!

    The space station can be seen with the naked eye just above their own house on earth, where their sons jeer but plan a rescue, amid other growing pains of male youth, like playing a game called Asskicker or exposing themselves to girls…
    This story so utterly sits right with this whole set-of-fiction’s gestalt (and I still have one more story to read.)

    “‘How is aim different from precision?’ I asked. I know nothing about archery.”

    And its end vision of the method of rescue that evolves is quite astonishing in this context. [It’s like when, as a tiny kid, I used to draw a myriad stick-men creating chains with each others’ limbs throughout the universe. All they needed were Gelatin moulds to fatten them into real men?]
    Has to be read.

    “Where’d you guys get all the arrows?” “From the getting place.” “From the arrow emporium.” “From the projectile palisades.”

  5. A Citizen’s Guide to the Kingdom of Heaven by Josh Pearce


    A Guide in 18 bold-titled parts. I have so far only read them once. They need re-reading like the Antlers and Weeds, here Foglets – as Internet Clouds, I guess. A morphing of the Gelatine Moulds. Min versus Max as Santa Claus versus Krampus. In telling contrast to the dads’ ramshackleness of hardstuff space travel, this is by Foglets as a virtual reality, a sort of clouded Facebook where positions are taken, and the optimum often becomes the pessimum, and vice versa. A lesson on the nature of humanity when interneticised, dealing with warfare, plus Heaven and Hell. It is William Blake digitised and divided. An IS State that ISN’T. And nothing can be pre-bargained for in this tontine other than Max’s widening and Min’s narrowing… It will be an anonymous spoiler that takes me to task if I tell you which approach prevails.


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