September 2008

editorial29 Sep 2008 09:05 am

I am proud to present the second issue of Polu Texni, with fiction by Adam Rurik and Michael A. Burstein, and the beginning of an exploration of science quilts. The costuming article will appear in October, along with fiction by Vera Nazarian.

After this issue, I am going to switch to smaller weekly updates. I wanted to start with enough content to really show what the site is about. Now that I’ve got enough here for a reader to sink their teeth into, I want to concentrate on adding new material frequently and keeping the site fresh.

contest29 Sep 2008 09:00 am

Solar System Quilt, made in 1876 by Ella Harding Baker. Image from the National Museum of American History.

A Genome quilt by Beverly St. Clair. The artist uses quilt blocks to encode sequences of DNA.

Since I started working on this webzine, I’ve been looking for examples of the kind of art I want to showcase. I sat down and brainstormed the kinds of cross-genre art I’m interested in. One of the first things I thought of was science quilts, quilts made either to illustrate a point in science or using a scientific concept as inspiration. After all, quilts are tesselations of the plane, divisions of space in a regular way, and so essentially a mathematical concept to begin with. And another thing that I want to do in this magazine is find people who are out there doing interesting things outside of the mainstream. So I thought that I’d go to some of the big craft sites and look for science quilts.

Ebay: nothing.

Etsy: nothing.

Deviant Art: not really.

I started thinking of SF art shows that I’ve been to… surely, there were some quilts there. I know there are a lot of textile artists in the SF community. Surely, some of those quilts did not feature unicorns or fairies. I found a very small number of examples of what I was looking for… two of them are the lovely quilts pictured above. Then I thought that if I want to see them, perhaps I need to ask for them. I would like quilters to send me pictures of any science related quilt along with a brief bio. I’ll put the best ones together into a gallery with your info. I will pick the one that interests me the most, and that person will win $100, and I will profile them on the site. I don’t care about the size of the original quilt since I’m only interested in a picture. The quilt doesn’t have to be made for this search. I will take entries until the end of 2008. Then, in January, I will post the results.

Send photos or contact me with questions at dawnwich at

fiction29 Sep 2008 08:45 am

(continued from last week. This week, the warning about language is joined by one for over the top violence, pardon the spoiler if it is one.)

“Stephen, you promised you’d be quiet.” Wounded voice.

I’m starting to hyperventilate.


Oh Jesus, oh Jesus, I’m going over!


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fiction29 Sep 2008 08:40 am

The day that I lost my funding for my solar observation project was the same day I first noticed that the universe had begun to contract.

The director of the observatory, Dr. Patricia Remini, came into my office herself to break the news to me about my National Science Foundation application. The letter from Washington, D.C., had finally crossed the Pacific to Hawaii, and the news was not good.

“They said that your proposal just wasn’t significant enough to warrant funding, especially given all the cutbacks in science. I’m sorry.”

I sat there for a minute, just staring into space. It was difficult for me to accept that this was happening.

“Look, Jack,” she continued. “The observatory can still afford to pay your way for at least another year. You’re doing fine work on classifying new binaries with that team from Georgia State, and you’re good with the graduate students.”

“What happens if I can’t come up with alternate funding for next year?” I asked.

“We’ll worry about that then. In the meantime, why don’t you forget about your own work for a while? Go home early; spend some time with your wife and kid. Or help out Daniel Kelly. What was that you got him working on?”

“Spectral analysis,” I replied. “He’s been practicing techniques by taking the spectra of galaxies. You know, checking the Hubble constant.”

She nodded. “Good. It’s especially important given the recent results from the Hubble Space Telescope. If the universe really is younger than we thought, perhaps you might find a clue in his data.”

She walked to the door, and then took one last look back at me. “You okay?”

“Oh, sure,” I said. “I’ll be fine.”

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author profile29 Sep 2008 08:39 am
Michael A. Burstein, photo by Nomi S. Burstein

Michael A. Burstein, photo by Nomi S. Burstein

Michael A. Burstein, winner of the 1997 Campbell Award for Best New Writer, has earned ten Hugo nominations and three Nebula nominations for his short fiction, which appears mostly in Analog. Burstein lives with his wife Nomi in the town of Brookline, Massachusetts, where he is an elected Town Meeting Member and Library Trustee. When not writing, he edits middle and high school Science textbooks. He has two degrees in Physics and attended the Clarion Workshop. The story that appears here is quite unlike the hard SF that he’s known for, although in my opinion, it is also hard SF in its own way.

1) I know that you went to Clarion. We also were in a writer’s workshop together years ago, and you were involved in online writer’s workshops. Can you say something about the time when you were getting started? Did you write much before you became active in the writer’s community? What kinds of things did you find helpful or unhelpful?

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editorial15 Sep 2008 08:06 pm

Waiting by Pat Lillich

Welcome to the initial issue of Polu Texni. In this issue, we have artwork by Pat Lillich, fiction by Jack Skillingstead and the first part of a story by Adam Rurik, and interviews with Pat and Jack. Next issue, on September 29th, we’ll have a new story by Michael A. Burstein, the second part of Adam’s story, and an article on the art of costuming.

the arts15 Sep 2008 08:06 pm

You might be surprised to see these pieces described as dolls. Maybe you think figurative art is a better description. But I hope you like her work as much as I do. Click on the thumbnails to see larger versions of the pictures, and read on below to learn more about this artist.

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fiction15 Sep 2008 08:03 pm

Adam Rurik is a Canadian author and serial procrastinator with a fascination for the dark side of human nature, as he shows in this story. When I first read this story, I felt guilty that I liked it. But, er, like it I did. Maybe this means I’m a bad person.

You’re not going to have a heart attack, you’re not gonna have a stroke, you’re not gonna have a heart attack, you’re not g—

Bang! The bus hits a pothole which is, if the force of the jolt is any indication, roughly the size of Meteor Crater in Arizona. My mantra is cut off in mid-though, and this plus the adrenal rush from the unexpected, badly-absorbed shock/noise of our encounter with the pothole raises my heart rate to about ten thousand beats per minute from its previous leisurely pace of around 7,500. I’m already having my worst anxiety attack in three months, and the little Demon inside my head is carrying me off toward full-blown panic much faster than this damn bus is carrying me home.

You’re not gonna have a heart attack, you’re not gonna have —

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fiction15 Sep 2008 08:00 pm

Jack is an author living in the Pacific Northwest who has appeared in Asimov’s, Realms of Fantasy, and numerous Year’s Best Anthologies. Read more about him in the profile, following.

Cab Macarron left his patrol car at the state barracks but he didn’t bother to change out of his trooper’s uniform. He picked up Joe Rodriguez at the Penny Diner in Goldbar and they headed straight to the Soams place as dusk was descending on the North Cascades. If there was going to be trouble Cab wanted backup. He had played football with Joe in high school. Back then, only five years ago, they had called Rodriguez “The Monster.” He was still a big son of a bitch. Cab and Joe had always stuck together, pulling a three year hitch in the Marines and then going for troopers.

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author profile15 Sep 2008 08:00 pm

I first “met” Jack while working on my previous publishing project. We wanted to buy this story, “Double Occupancy”, for that project, but in the end that project never happened. It would have been Jack’s first published story. When I started this site, I thought of it again and wondered what Jack was up to. I was thrilled to discover how well his career had gone in the last ten years. He’s had stories published in Asimovs and stories chosen for the Year’s Best Anthology. It made me feel smart to have recognized his talent ten years ago.

1) Tell me about your first published story, since I missed that opportunity.

I wrote “Dead Worlds” in late 2001 and Gardner Dozois bought it for Asimov’s in August of 2002. It appeared in the June 2003 issue, made the Sturgeon Award short list and was reprinted in Dozois’ “Year’s Best Science Fiction, Twenty-First Edition.” Certainly not what I expected when I sat down to rehash an idea I’d originally tried out many years earlier and presented to a college writing class, to less than enthusiastic response from my instructor, a minor poet and occasional short story writer whose claim to fame at that point had been the sale of an erotic poem to Playboy Magazine. The truth is, by the year 2000 I’d given up hope of ever seeing my work published. After years of trying, and easily more than a million words written, I was out of gas. This would have been a good time to pack it in and get on with more mundane matters. But to my dismay I discovered that I couldn’t surrender my obsession. So after a suitable period of head-banging despair and heavy drinking, I resumed my usual routine of short story writing. Giving up on “success” turned out to be a great career move. Liberated from the annoying distraction of tying to please remote editors and satisfy baffling markets, I wrote whatever the hell I felt like writing and almost immediately made acquaintance with the approval I’d courted fruitlessly for years. Actually, I’d always written pretty much what I felt like writing. It’s just that no one was interested in it. About the time I sold you “Double Occupancy” I thought I was on a roll, that I’d made a major breakthrough and was writing the first decent stories of my life. But though I came close with a number of them at markets such as Weird Tales and Deathrealm and MZB’s Fantasy Magazine, I just could NOT crack the bubble. And of course, even “Double Occupancy”– technically my first sale –never made it into print until now. There’s probably a lesson in all this about perseverance and dogged determination, but really I’m just a prisoner of my obsessions.
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