Now this really was a challenge Paul is a sci-fi addict, and something of an expert in the genre, as his novels bear out. But for most of Shorelink this is a largely unexplored and rather dense literary field. Undeterred, Paul presented us with twelve story/poems prompts, such as these below:
Why grieve when you can keep your loved one encased in Forever Glass?
A man driven mad by a ringing in his ears discovers it’s an alien signal …
Thomas the cat is from planet Feline. His problem is of convincing stupid humans of the fact.
We then had twenty minutes to write something on one of these subjects.
Well, we rose to the challenge, of course. Several of us opted for the comparatively less daunting theme and went for Thomas the cat. I loved the multilingual feline called Pierre who told one of those stories. There was a splendid and creepy piece about calcifying bodies, another about a husband with the 700 year old itch, and a delightful one about a boy whose grandfather was the last robot on earth.
The tintinus one was popular, giving rise to several fascinating stories, one concerning a sadistic composer –this one was embellished with a musical cacophony so well written we could almost hear it. We covered the end of the world several times, all in highly original contexts, we touched on Brexit and Trump, disappearing limbs in a ghostly landscape, lightness and shade, virus and eternal life. And much, much more.
There were two poems, one hilariously telling us how the author felt about sci-fi (not a fan!) and the other so extraordinary I asked permission to print it here. Written in the allotted twenty minutes and inspired by Paul’s suggestion which I have copied here: A virus attacks humans. The survivors, now fused with the virus, begin to remember a time before earth.
I sat in bed and every cough
Sparked memories of the early years
Before the moon had broken off
Before the Earth was made, and here
In empty space without a form
Our spirits floated like the stars.
Alight we sparkled in the dawn
Of time so long ago; so far
From earthly memories when the bang
Exploded lights, expanded space
A billion years before our race
Evolved upon the earth we know.
For this alien virus fused
With human minds and laid us low
Though our survivors’ memories grew
Of times without a human frame
When men and aliens were the same
Just sparks of thought, just words that rhymed
The stars and galaxies into place
Creating worlds of day and time
Of harmony, of life and space.
As you may have gathered, an unusual and stimulating workshop. Thanks, Paul, shall look forward to your next one!
Reading week next Monday, (at Tesco) optional theme: The light was dim but I could still see the werewolf coming toward me…
Should be fun! Sally