Chroma: Calanooka is the third book in the Constructed Sanity series by Carlie Martece, who has brilliantly woven another story that plays out on multiple levels: this is not simply a book to read, but to interact with.
We follow our neurodivergent protagonists, Leandra and Cal, through the desert to a little town called Summerton. They have difficult lives, trying to survive in a world that does not care about them. They are visited by Kalakai, an alien, who tries to recruit them for cosmic battle and warns them things may get worse before they get better.
The winter her grandfather died, Cari Silvestri swapped her home town for a new life. But the past is not so easily outrun. Almost ten years on, Grandfather returns, his stolen memories repackaged by technology giant Merrywhile Industries as a slick marketing promo for their latest project: digital immortality. But when no one believes her, Cari’s search for proof and answers gradually draws her into a lawless digital underworld.
Mel Faith is also haunted by the past. Her journalistic career circling the drain, she finds herself still obsessed with the one piece she never filed – the tragic history of Michael Sommeil, grandson of Merrywhile’s founder. It’s a story with few leads and fewer prospects, but at whose heart – she’s sure – a secret still sits untold.
As their paths intertwine, the two women enter a world of masks and aliases, of mercenary hackers and corporate spies, and where, underlying it all, is the hunt for the Singularity – the point, both feared and hoped for, where AI will finally surpass human understanding, and nothing will ever again be the same.
I knew this book would be for me as soon as I read the description: an experimental, poetic, flow-of-consciousness exploration of reality, fantasy and all the spaces in between. Yes please!
This is the kind of book you bring yourself to, in that you’re never 100% sure whether your experience is what the writer intended or whether you pasted your own meaning over the top of their words. There’s enough continuity, enough thread to hang onto, to make the text flow through an arc, but it also leaves a lot to interpretation.
I read this as the narrator delving into and confronting his own psyche. Perhaps it comes from knowing this was written during the first pandemic wave, when many felt isolated and helpless, but I see someone grasping desperately at straws to find meaning; someone left alone with his thoughts and falling deeper into their clutches. He picks at scabs, seeks out dark corners, obsesses over repeating motifs and patterns, and he digs.
Ellinor Kall is an explorer of the liminal, embodying the blend between fiction and non-fiction. The popularity of her short story The DreamCube Thread in our recent anthology sparked this conversation on isolation, automatic writing, and occult influences.
Hi Ellinor, welcome to Writers on Lockdown!
Thanks, it’s my pleasure!
So how are things over in Sweden, are you feeling as ‘locked down’ as us?
From what I gather you in the UK seem to have a stricter policy than us. There are restrictions on how many can gather in one place, on visiting the older and vulnerable groups and things like that. Many work from home if possible, but many people are still out and about.
Every spring Swedes go crazy when the sun returns after a long dark winter and people HAVE to gather at the temporary outdoor seatings that pop up outside the pubs – no virus can stop this annual sun-worshipping ritual. Maybe it’s a remnant of some stupid viking mentality: if we die in battle with the virus we’ll get to sit and drink beer in the sun on plastic chairs outside Valhalla.
Haha! Do you find isolation a help or a hindrance to your creative process?
I’m a rather introverted person, and before this I was already working from home at least one day a week. And when not working, well, I’m mostly staying at home, reading, writing, listening to music, watching films and playing games. So this “isolation” is normal for me.
When I’m working on something longer I need time, preferably over several days, to get into the right mindset, get into the world, arrange all the pieces before I continue writing. Any disturbance from the outside world and I have to start over again. My mind is kinda chaotic and wants to go off and do other things all the time. So I have to spend a lot of energy keeping focus until I get into flow. But once that happens it’s hyperfocus to the point I forget to eat.
Today sees the release of our very first anthology. It’s been a lot of work, but we are so proud of the final result. Vast: Stories of Mind, Soul and Consciousness in a Technological Age features exciting and thought-provoking contributions from ten fantastic authors.
Chimy and Chrisby Stephen Oram
Chris is a scientist. Chimy is a brain, artificially grown in a vat and developing quietly in the dark… ‘I feel the pipe against my surface and see her push it inside me. “Chimy, speak,” she says. I do not know how to speak. What does she mean? How do I speak?’
Little Thief by J.R. Staples-Ager
Thief has undergone surgery at the hands of Genesyx Corporation in order to become ‘ported’ and donate unused brain capacity to the country’s data processing power. What side effects could this possibly have?
Limited Infinity by Thomas Cline
Hess has lived in a reality simulation for many years by law, along with everyone else. But one day, suddenly, there is no one else. They just – vanish. Can he, and the voice in his head, find out what happened?
Dreamtime by Vaughan Stanger
Jerome is in pain. He can’t sleep and is in desperate need of palliative cancer treatment, but now that AI has supplanted every government, he must make a trade to get it. And there’s something he has that the Partners want more than anything else…
The Weight of your Mind by Sergio Palumbo
Brett is a scientist, working on a theory that thoughts produce gravity in minuscule amounts. The problem is, he only knows this at night when he sleeps. During the day he must live a different kind of nightmare…
The Video by Jonathan D. Clark
Everyone watches the video. You watch it. I watch it. We watch it from a distance with disgust, with tension, with the dark thrill of drama. What does the video say about us? What have we become?
The DreamCube Thread by Ellinor Kall
Everyone wants a DreamCube. Feed the ethically cultivated neural tissue, keep it by your bed, and watch it dream! But people are curious. People have questions. Why are the Makers so elusive? Join the discussion!
Luz Beyond the Glass by Ava Kelly
Huge glass spheres sit in gardens. Everyone knows they absorb pollution from the ground, water, and air, to cleanse the filth our ancestors left behind. What most don’t know is what resides in them…
Every Aspect of Every Recollection by Peter Burton
A wonderfully philosophical piece, taking a wander in a mind that has only itself left. Do our memories give us life? Our fantasies? Is it possible we are each more than a single timeline?
Ancestors by Juliane Graef
There is no way back from what humans have done to Earth. But there might just be a way forward… A touching story depicting the persistence of consciousness and three aeons of what happens after.
You can buy your copy now from any of the following:
I’m thrilled to tell you that the very first anthology from Orchid’s Lantern is due for publication on 28th February 2020! Vast: Stories of Mind, Soul and Consciousness in a Technological Age has been in the works for the last few months, and it’s looking better than we ever expected.
We asked authors to think about the relationship that current and imagined tech has with the human psyche. Does it change us, or do we change it? How might such a relationship develop in the future, and what could the unexpected consequences be?
The resulting submissions were fascinating, and we have pulled together the very best we could find to make this exciting, thought-provoking volume.
Some stories border on the fantastical in their scope, while others paint a picture of a world we recognise. We have pieces that explore the relationship between social media, marketing and consciousness. We have extrapolations of quantum physics and what we know about the dreaming mind. we have dramatic life extensions, 3D printed medical care, DNA splicing and artificial biology aiding environmental recovery. And, at the heart of all this, we have a careful appreciation that science remains humble in the face of our inner mysteries.
The contributors and their stories are:
Stephen Oram – Chimy and Chris
J.R. Staples-Ager – Little Thief
Thomas Cline – Limited Infinity
Vaughan Stanger – Dreamtime
Sergio ‘ente per ente’ Palumbo – The Weight of Your Mind
Jonathan D. Clark – The Video
Ellinor Kall – The DreamCube Thread
Ava Kelly – Luz Beyond the Glass
Peter Burton – Every Aspect of Every Recollection
Juliane Graef – Ancestors
Vast is available to pre-order right now from most bookstores, both online and on the high street. The Kindle edition can be found here, with versions for other e-readers being rolled out over the next few days. You can also get the paperback edition right here on Orchid’s Lantern.
Just a quick note to let you know that Mind in the Gap by C.R. Dudley is available at a special price of just £1.99/$1.99 on Kindle for the next 3 days only! We don’t do discounts very often, so grab your copy while you can via this Universal Amazon Link and explore this unique, multi-dimensional story collection.
“After reading the last piece, I started back at the beginning and experienced the closest thing to a psychedelic epiphany I can imagine without the help of a mind altering substance.” – Pablo Cuzco
“While this is an incredibly smart book worthy of deep dives and focused attention, it does not change the fact that this book is also pure FUN.” – Logan Ryan Smith
“Clear, elegant and gripping prose turns deep philosophical concepts about the nature of reality into a real page-turner.” – Pete
“Mind-bending, truly original science fiction.” – Kip Koelsch
“An engrossing exploration into consciousness, identity, and reality itself. A layered multiverse populated by surreal and sometimes outrageous characters, in a sweeping narrative that is skillfully woven throughout seemingly disconnected stories.” – Matthew Davis
I found you in a different place. You were all tendrils, mostly black with the occasional flash of colour. I focused on your heart, as I always used to, and it vibrated in perfect time with my watch. The ever-flowing water of the fountain beside you reminded me that time was passing. We didn’t have long.
I don’t think you realised you held the key. I don’t think you realised you were gone from my world, or that the only thing holding you together in that moment was the little piece of tech on my wrist. I don’t think you realised who I was.
I reached out with one tentative arm, though in that place it appeared only as a beam of light. It had to touch you gently enough that you wouldn’t disintegrate, but firmly enough to forge a tight connection. None of the information must be compromised during the transfer, or the key would be lost to the void.
A world of light. It’s quiet here. Peaceful. My forehead is pressed against yours, and I think: you are older now. So much older. Am I older too? Sunken eyes. Grey, worn skin. Wise with it, though. For a moment it seems as though we are about to kiss, but no. We’re way beyond that.
There are no words, categories, or sensations anymore. Only thoughts mingling as one. I send you the violet energy from my reserves, so that you might be nourished, rejuvenated. I see it tunneling through your veins, and you gasp.
In your eyes now there’s a different light. An abstract sort of light. You send it shining right at me. I know it’s time. We have to let go. The cogs whir into action all around us, all at once. The hands begin to twitch. The face is blank. A new consciousness will soon rise.
Emanations is an experiment in automatic fiction writing. Each slice is to be read as a stream of consciousness, a little window into the back rooms of the mind.
Vast: Stories of mind, soul and consciousness in a technological age.
Exciting news! Orchid’s Lantern is about to open its doors for the first time. Vast is to be the very first anthology published by our independent press. We’re seeking stories that explore the relationship between technological development and human ontology.
To give an idea of scope, here are a few things to think about:
Could machines ever fill the god-shaped hole in man, and what might religions of the future look like?
How might developments in electronics, computing or medical procedure aid (or hinder) the transcendence of our mental faculties?
What new forms of non-physical communication could emerge, and what effect would this have on the way we live?
What can artificial intelligence teach us about the nature of mind, soul and consciousness? Are these qualities only present in living things?
How have smart phones, the Internet, crypto currencies and automation already changed the way we think?
How might mental illness be helped or hindered by technology?
Will mind and matter always be considered distinct?
How might the exploration of altered states of consciousness, natural and otherwise, be changed in light of fast-developing scientific approaches?
What paths could quantum physics take us down when coupled with future technology, and how might it solve the hard problem of consciousness?
How might unconscious desires or biases impact our future?
Will the kind of dreams we have, or the way we perceive them, evolve?
What direction might the disciplines of philosophy and psychology take in the future?
These are intended to give you an idea of the feel we are going for, and should act as inspiration only. They are not necessarily jumping off points, and they are not the only angles on the theme we will accept.
We want high impact experimental pieces, streams of consciousness, unusual perspectives and fictional accounts of altered states. We want extrapolations and interpretations of our present reality, or visions of drastic changes. The playful and colourful will be juxtaposed with dystopia. We do not want highly fantastical settings unless they explicitly link back to the theme. We want complete stories, not chapters of something bigger.
Please do not send us:
Stories of a racist, sexist or bigoted nature (though careful exploration of such themes may be considered)
Stories promoting particular religions or political stances
Vampires, werewolves, superheroes or magic
We like: Maniac, Russian Doll, OA, Black Mirror, The Matrix, Philip K Dick, William Gibson, Jeff Vandermeer, Kurt Vonnegut, Cixin Liu, Robert Anton Wilson, Aldous Huxley, Alan Watts and Terence McKenna.
All submissions should be less than 7,500 words. There is no lower limit because we are fans of flash fiction, so long as it is strong and impactful. However we aim to have a variety of lengths in the finished publication.
The initial deadline is 10th September 2019, but we reserve the right to extend this should we not receive enough quality submissions by this date.
We will acknowledge receipt of all submissions, and later respond with an accept, decline, or request for discussion. If you have not received the second email within a month of submission, your piece is being considered and we will be in touch by 10th October. Please do not send follow-up emails unless you wish to withdraw your submission.
Simultaneous submissions to other publishers are allowed, but please let us know straight away if you receive an acceptance so we can remove you from our list.
Each author may submit only one piece for consideration.
Submissions may have been previously published online, but must be removed prior to the publication of this anthology.
We expect to publish the anthology mid 2020.
Contributors will be compensated with a small one-off sterling payment of 0.5p per word (£5 per 1000 words) and two paperback copies of the anthology.
All stories will be checked for grammatical consistency (using British English as we are a UK publisher) and proofread prior to publishing, but we ask that all submissions are in a polished, complete state when you send them to us. Excessive errors or poor form will result in your submission being declined.
A 50 word bio will be required for inclusion in the final anthology. It is not a requirement to send this with your initial submission, but you may do so if you wish.
We are committed to diversity in literature, and as long as they follow our guidelines, we will give all submissions equal consideration. Whether you’re a new or established writer, we welcome your submissions.
Vast will be edited by C.R. Dudley, author of metaphysical collections Fragments of Perception and Mind in the Gap.
Submissions should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Vast’ as the subject line. Documents should be clearly marked with the author or pen name and story title on each page. By submitting, you accept our guidelines detailed above and assert yourself as the copyright holder.
We look forward to reading your stories!
Still have questions? Ask us in the comments below.