Monday, July 27, 2020

Story Notes: "Sasquatch Summer"

First things first: Yes, after four long years I have another book coming out. I'll be making another post about it soon, but just in case that future post as delayed as this one I should mention that it's cyberpunk set in rural West Virginia, you can pre-order it now, and the cover is amazing. Oh, and the title is Busted Synapses, a reference to the side effects of the drugs used in the book, because you can't have cyberpunk without drugs. I'll be talking about it anywhere I can (which unfortunately doesn't include any bookstores or conventions), including here, but if you liked my previous book Stay Crazy I'd be real stoked if you pre-order this one too.

Sasquatch Xing Rectangle - World Famous Sign Co.But the novella isn't the only thing that's going down. I'm still writing short stories from time to time, and earlier this month one of those stories was published! Not getting around to writing up story notes until now is pretty inexcusable, but call it a combination of 2020, laziness, and believing the story pretty much speaks for itself.

"Sasquatch Summer" is my first attempt at writing historical fiction. Set in turn-of-the-last-century Oregon, it centers on a small town torn apart by the fight between a small-time timber industrialist, a trainload of New York City anarchists, and the gentle socialist sasquatches that lived (and as far as I know still live) inside Mount Hood. The narrator is Helen, a plucky girl who stumbles into this messy political situation when her brother is kidnapped by sasquatches. Here's an excerpt:

That was the summer the sasquatches came down from Mount Hood and put Papa out of a job. 
It wasn’t their fault, not really. Sasquatches don’t need tools to work. When a sasquatch wants to tear down a tree, he doesn’t use an axe. He grips each side with his leathery hands and just pulls until the earth decides to let that tree go. When a tree falls on a sasquatch, the company doesn’t have to pay his family any compensation like they did to Jimmy’s family. That creature just rolls out from under the tree and keeps on walking. 
Of course, most folks didn’t see it like that.
Automation has arrived in the Oregon wilderness, courtesy of cryptids who are too intelligent to understand money. To the rescue of both the exploited sasquatches and the dispossessed townsfolk come a motley gang of proto-feminist city folk who seek to form a sasquatch union, but the cultural disconnect between the brash newcomers and the unemployed townies seems like it may do more harm than good for everyone. In the end, the sasquatches need to speak for themselves, but how can a creature that doesn't talk have a voice?

Though written as a several-years-after-the-fact reaction to Occupy Wall Street, this story is really damn 2020. Because I want you to actually read the story, I won't go into the resolution, and will only say that it emphasizes the importance of helping communities on their own terms, and that it's pretty optimistic for one of my stories. You can read it right now at Kaleidotrope, one of the best smaller online magazines out there, and there are many other great stories in this issue. So go read it!