Arun Somasekharan. 'O'thor-in-residence
Arun is a software engineer who used to work out of a plush office in Reading, UK until the pandemic struck and forced him to work from the nether regions of a corner of his bedroom.
At night, when his wife and kids are asleep, he retreats to his corner where he reads Quanta Magazine and ponders on the quantum nature of the universe. Occasionally, when literary ideas superpositions in his brain, he tries his hand at short fiction.
Also a long time ago, seemingly in another lifetime, he found time to do a PhD in Computer Graphics.
An Ode to Oz and Chaos Theory
Brevity is the soul of wit. A haiku, in my opinion, is the purest form of poetry. It encapsulates an idea in a few choice words, distilling out any peripheral imagery. Similarly, a popular but unsubstantiated work of flash fiction attributed to Ernest Hemingway, goes:
For Sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.
In six words, this piece establishes the enormity of the emotion. There are numerous websites that have some exemplary examples of similar work. This week I’ve attempted to write something similar with a sci-fi and fantasy flavour, titled “An Ode to Oz and Chaos Theory”.
Danger on Derma
The aim was to write something termed as micro-science fiction prototype or Micro-SFP. Micro-SFPs are complete stories in three or four lines of text. Needless to say, I failed miserably and the word count blew up. But often the best creations are accidental. The inspiration was a concept art on Pinterest. It showed this mind-numbingly tall Lovecraftian being, maybe an Elder God, walking over a landscape. It got me thinking about how meaningless our existence must be for such a being, infinitesimally unimportant in the grand scheme of things. This was the result. Hope you enjoy it.
I’ve been a science fiction fan since forever, growing up on the likes of Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle etc. So, it was a delight when my cousin showed me a used paperback novelisation of Doctor Who and The Dalek Invasion of the Earth. It hooked both of us into a quintessentially British sci-fi Universe of Time Lords, strange aliens and Lovecraftian monsters. Time and Relative Dimension in Space became a buzz word between us. We bought many more Dr. Who novelisations later, but the one incarnation of the Doctor that I loved was the Fourth Doctor and the brilliant British actor, Tom Baker, who portrayed him in the 1970s television series.
So what follows, is not so much a story as an encounter snippet, but mostly is a homage to Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor. 'Have a jelly baby!'
A Melancholy in Quantum Foam
This story was developed in two days around a small paragraph I had written quite a while back. And that was:
"What would she see? How would she feel? With a slight trepidation, Kauveri put on the photonic transference goggles and activated the synaptic imprinter. Unlike normal photons, the photons the imprinter produced contained a lot more information. They were encoded with superpositions of past probability states that the imprinter sampled of the room. The beam of light blasted her ocular nerves and entangled with the neurons in her visual cortex."
This, now, is an excerpt from this work. Where does it appear? Well, you'll find out soon.
A Tryst With Caffeine
The origin of this short fiction began as an exercise using writing prompts. I listen to lectures by Brandon Sanderson and one of the sessions had a guest lecturer, the sci-fi writer, Mary Robinette Kowal, who wrote the brilliant alternate history novel, The Calculating Stars. And her topic of discussion was short fiction (which I love) and what makes them tick. I think you know where I am going with this. As a fun task, she provided a few words that you had to incorporate into your short fiction.
I won’t tell you what the prompts are :) . And quite likely, those prompting words do not exist in this story anymore. But suffice to say that they worked well and ended up giving birth to the story that you are about to read. It falls into the category of flash fiction and is my nascent attempt at sardonic humour. Enjoy! Maybe.
Jack & Jill: An Existential Problem
I have always wanted to write a story about two characters engaging in deep conversations about the Universe, trying to understand it and to figure out where they fitted in, in the vastness of it.
This formed the premise of this speculative piece that you are about to read. The idea to use Jack and Jill was purely incidental, but then it made a strange sense with respect to the setting and brought in some lighthearted banter between the two, and took on a life of its own.
They are also characters some of us are familiar with, from our childhood, and have formed a lyrical connection with. Characters that we ourselves perpetuate to our progeny. I would not strictly call this a science fiction story but more a genre of the weird, or slipstream fiction with a heavy dose of science and speculation in it.
But I hope that you, dear reader, find the conversational transitions from a philosophical standpoint to the scientific and then to the delightfully weird, enjoyable. In classic Douglas Adams style, this story is presented as a trilogy in four parts.