So let's talk about Rust City
began as a thought experiment as to whether or not I could write something Bizarro. (The verdict is: I couldn't. The closest I've ever come is probably The Relative Densities of Seawater and Blood
, and it's not very bizarre, compared to anything, say, Carlton Mellick III
has ever written. I think that in order to write Bizarro, you have to have the abilites (1)Not to take yourself so damn seriously, and (2)Let go of the need to explain or at least justify everything, and I score pretty badly on those rubrics.)
The story follows Ferro, a man with a condition that's given him the primary sex characteristics of an standard XX physiology but a standard set of XY secondary sex characteristics. He falls in with a pair of cousins named Wolf and Sela, who may or may not be genetically-engineered remnants of the war that screwed up the entire planet, either decades or centuries ago.
The full title of the project is Rust City (a love story)
, though I remain unsure of what the love story actually is. (Wolf and Sela have an extremely broken familial relationship they both want fixed but don't know how to fix, Wolf and Ferro sleep together, Ferro is fascinated and stalked by Sela, and for all this time Ferro is crushing on a woman named Kyoto who has burn scars covering most of her chest. There's a lot of thematic body stuff going on here, and it's all kind of a mess.)
Also, there are molemen, which aren't actually molemen. They're more like some kind of cavefish-esque offshoot of Homo sapiens
who live in the old (but expanded) sewer system beneath the city. (I'm not sure that's better.) They communicate with Ferro by exploiting a trick of his synaesthesia – yes, Ferro also has synaesthesia, as well as hypertactility and haptophilia – which also has a tinge of the supernatural to it.
It's resisting being written, for the most part, because I honestly have no idea where it's going or why half the stuff is happening. You know, conventional wisdom says that you should have your story worked out before you start writing it. At least you should know what the major players and motivations will be. Possibly have some understanding of the plot. That's just not how I roll; I tend to slap stuff that sounds pretty on a page and hope that eventually my brain will start supplying all the connective tissue, musculature, and skeletal structure. Sometimes in that order.
But I wrote a slim 655 words on it last night, and now I'm sharing an excerpt with you!
He felt himself sailing down, through the floor, drawn toward the molten center of the world, but before he could come anywhere near it he was caught in a noise like spidersilk. It wrapped around him, twining through his pores in a rhythm like words.
They were words. Maybe not in a classical sense, but something intelligible without being sound. Something like,
And then, by more voices, closer to his skin,
As always, I hope you'll check out and support the Clarion West Write-a-thon
(and me in particular
, if you feel so inclined). Your donation will help a workshop which has supported real live Bizarro authors! And many, many others.]