Byline

Good news – A Thousand Faces accepted a new flash piece from me! I had a lot of fun writing this one. Look for that later this year.

Tuesday evening I pounded out more than I’ve written in a while. Perhaps I’m getting back on track after a pretty dry couple of months.

I’m a fan of writing these interview-style works. I enjoy writing dialogue, and the form really lets you explore the character and how they see the world and interact with others. Don’t have to worry about advancing a plot or framing an action scene. The story is in how the characters reveal themselves through their speaking. Just a couple of people sitting around chatting. It also makes me feel like I’m working on a Christopher Guest-style mockumentary (though I’m not nearly so talented as those guys).

There’s great poetry done in this style, too. So I thought, more as an exercise to get my brain going again more than anything else, that I’d write a few interviews with my fictional alien rock band, Virtuoso of the Serious Combat. By the time I got through the first section, the spark of a fuller story had ignited.

But do these sorts of things work as prose stories? I don’t know how entertaining they really are to anyone other than me. It may be that this will make a great screenplay for a short film, but not a short story. We shall see! I understand Script Frenzy is next month, too. Perhaps this will give me a chance to break in my copy of Celtx.

Anyway, here’s the rough first part of the interview series. Let me know if this looks like something that might be entertaining, in any medium.

Title!

These interviews were conducted with the members of the Jovian band Virtuoso of the Serious Combat, on their tour ship as it was docked in Los Angeles during their Destructo tour in May of 2170.

The tour was interrupted shortly thereafter with the issuance of arrest warrants for all involved with the band.

*****

I originally thought the drummer was fidgety and nervous in front of the camera, but as it turned out he was fidgety all the time. He tapped out a rhythm on the seat of the chair, between his legs. He never stopped. He caught a glimpse of our sound man grimacing and suddenly seemed very self-conscious, gripping the edge of the seat. His knees bounced instead.

“So what do you think of this name they’ve given you?” I asked. “The ‘Iron Acrobat.’ Do you feel that’s…that it represents you, as a person?”

He shrugged. “That is how you translate it. Few humans learn the language of my people.”

Despite his nonhuman status, Iron Acrobat was the most Terran-looking of the band. His dark brown skin and hairless head weren’t unusual at all, and he had the proper number of appendages. From a distance he would easily be mistaken as a native of Earth. He didn’t even have much of an accent. Up close, though, his Ionian heritage was obvious. His skin possessed a rough, rocky texture, except for the smooth areas around the joints. The lines in his face were more like fissures than wrinkles, cracked and dry. His eyes were little more than craters in his face, deep within which embers faintly burned. He tended to leave a fine layer of regolith in his wake. Though barely over five feet in height and skinny by human standards, Iron Acrobat was dense and heavy; his quarters are furnished with furniture specially built to handle his weight.

“When did you first become interested in music?”

“On Io we are all musicians. As our world sweeps past Jupiter, our atmosphere reacts with the planet’s magnetic field, and the entire world is charged.” I will not claim any expertise in reading Ionian facial expressions, but his eyes seemed to burn brighter as he spoke of his home. “We can hear this massive discharge as Io sacrifices itself to Jovia. It is like music. We even have instruments that can manipulate the local currents. It is quite beautiful. With the proper aural aids, humans can listen, but it is said that the experience can drive a man mad.”

“You learned on these instruments?”

“Yes. I started on a heavy electron pipe when I was about five. I still play when I go home. I am working on a side project, adapting Beethoven’s 5th for the Loki Patera Symphony.”

“When did you first hear Earth music?”

“A few years after that, I think? I was very focused on the local scene back then.”

“Did you see a lot of live acts? This would have been, what, twenty years ago? Not too long after first contact with the Jovian Collective. I can only think of the Stones tour in ’59.”

“I never saw a human act until I visited Europa. I was about 15. Only the really big tours could afford the rigors of a trip to Io, and a poor kid like me could never afford those concerts. The closest I got was peeking through the gravity fences at Ra Patera when the Luddites came on their Asteroids tour.”

“They were a great live act.”

“Yes, I could barely see them, but it was enough. The sounds were so different from our own, and the energy was incredible. I was at least two miles away, but I could feel the stomps of the crowd beneath my feet. I knew that was a power I wanted to harness.”

****

2 thoughts on “Byline”

  1. Good piece. Some good ideas; I like the idea of playing Beethoven in the electromagnetic spectrum. This reminds me, oddly enough, of that concert described in Hitchhiker’s that’s so loud it makes an entire planet gain the power of telepathy. It also reminds me (but only coincidentally) of Dan Simmons’s “Ilium”, where the moons of Jupiter are colonized, and it talks about the incredible power of the moons’ flux tubes, the tubes of magnetic energy generated by their movement in such a huge gravitational field, and how the power is equal to trillions of joules… they use it to launch spaceships.

  2. Jupiter’s moons are a lot of fun. I was looking into the major ones, as each member of the band will be from a different moon. Some fascinating natural phenomenon going on out there.

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