It was a rather flighty assignment, as I recollect. Phyllis showed our group a number of her personal collection of prints by Ed Emshwiller, one of the premier artists of the Golden Age of sci-fi. Our assignment: Write a story based on one of them.
The picture I chose involved a scantily clad, buxom woman: I don’t think Emsh - as he was known - ever drew a female not shaped like a bell curve. She was barely dressed and in distress - because some sort of he-man astronaut/scientist type was coming for her and was in the grip of … apparently some sort of flowering multi-colored dust.
Columbia College Chicago, where Phyllis was giving her seminar, was hosting its annual Creative Nonfiction Week literary festival at about the same time. One of the guests that year was Joel Garreau, who gave a talk on his then-new book: Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies – And What It Means to Be Human. I was fascinated by the concepts Garreau was describing He was insisting that we’re living in a science fiction world and that many high tech, “unthinkable” solutions were already out there, but just not very exposed to or accessible by the public just yet.
I bought his book - Garreau signed it and was quite affable, hanging around after the signing, open to quite a bit of discussion, as I recall - and I ate it up in a day or two. The nanotech possibilities especially intrigued me, and I couldn’t help applying some of his ideas to the story assignment looming over my head.
People seem to generally like “The Mold of Memory” and I get emails and comments asking why I don’t write more straight-up science fiction. The answer to that is ... because I’m not a tech or science guy at heart. My science fiction training comes from the Golden Age, from Bradbury and Heinlein and the sort of stuff in Robert Silverberg’s first Science Fiction Hall of Fame volume. I reserve the right to write in in science fiction at will, but horror and crime are what my brain seems to readily return to when I get up each day...
I felt so unsure of myself in the science fiction realm, once upon a time, that this story didn’t see print until 2011, when my fellow Hoosier James Ward Kirk announced he was putting together a collection celebrating science fiction by Indiana authors. I’d previously published a story with him for a similar crime collection, so I sent him “The Mold of Memory.”
There was just one thing. James didn’t particularly care for the title, in what he took as the context of the story. We spent a fun hour on Facebook one afternoon shooting different ideas back and forth for a new, revised title, and we finally settled on one that sort of punned on the memory and nanotech aspects of the tale: “I NaKnow You”. I tend to give in to editorial requests, but, in the end, that title’s just too punny for me, so, when the contract expired, I returned to the old title, but with an acknowledgement and thanks to James.
Ten tales of worlds gone wrong!
"The Mold of Memory" - Nanotech run amok.
"How to Make Love Last Beyond the Grave" - Even the undead love….
"Howling" - A twisted werewolf short.
"Under an Invisible Shadow" - What happens when the dead start dying?
"Finding Tim" - Fantasy novel cover art might hold the key to one man's loss.
"Graven Images" - You might not feel quite yourself when the aliens arrive.
"Morbo the Clown Comes to Town" - A prose poem for the clown lover in all of us.
"Bookworms" - What was in the forbidden book the archaeology grad student found?
"Walking Woes" - In the future, it's the obese who rule.
"The Dreaming Gods" - A surreal tale previously in Rite Publishing's D20 zine PATHWAYS..