Category: Writing & Art

Posts related to my creative writing and multimedia art projects, including books, characters, experiments, and process.

Imaginary Worlds Podcast!

Eric Molinsky of the Imaginary Worlds Podcast, did a fabulous episode on Neurodivergent Futures in science fiction. The podcast includes interviews with Ada Hoffman, Nick Walker, Quinn Dexter, and me. Fun conversation about autistic representation and neurodiversity frames in science fiction fandom and content–plus an actor reading from Hoshi! Transcript available.

LISTEN / READ

New Novel Resonance Released!

I’ve wanted to share the story that starts in Resonance for over 20 years, and here it is. I’m excited, and hopeful, and terrified–which is all weirdly in alignment with the book’s exploration of the edge of hope and fear. Perhaps I’ve summoned an élan of my own. I love these characters and their weird story of neurodivergent experience and alien influence, and I hope you do too. Many thanks to Autonomous Press for their support of neurodivergent/queer authors and stories.

Outrageous and acclaimed, 26th-century musician Caran Watts depends on two secrets to stay alive: a dangerous drug that hides his illegal neurodivergence and an alien species whose vulnerable existence he has sworn to protect. But when he arrives in the Galilean system to tour his latest work, those secrets are hijacked by a powerful force to advance a genocidal plot. As fear infects Jupiter’s moons, Caran must choose whether to keep hiding or risk both his own life and the aliens in hope of a better future.

Current ways to read:

Resonance Themes & Motivations

I have a new book coming out in March 2022 called Resonance. It’s a literary science fiction novel set in the same world as Hoshi. It’s about what lives on the edge of hope and fear and the transformative power of art.

The groundwork for this novel (and the one that follows it–indeed all the Liminal Universe world-building) began more than 20 years ago. The first appearance of the book’s central characters—the human Caran Watts and the alien Muse–is time-stamped 2002 in my exploratory writings. It’s not a stretch to say most of my motivation to hone my lit-craft has been to be able to tell this story.

The back-of-the-book text goes like so:

Outrageous and acclaimed, 26th-century musician Caran Watts depends on two secrets to stay alive: a dangerous drug that hides his illegal neurodivergence and an alien species whose vulnerable existence he has sworn to protect. But when he arrives in the Galilean system to tour his latest work, those secrets are hijacked by a powerful force to advance a genocidal plot. As fear infects Jupiter’s moons, Caran must choose whether to keep hiding or risk both his own life and the aliens in hope of a better future.

I created the Liminal Universe because I was interested in paradigm shifts and social change. What does it take to move large populations to more equitable behavior? What makes some individuals focal points of those shifts? And, what if the paradigms themselves–or the ideas that comprise them–were sentient and we could talk to them? Would they change if we asked them to? Or would they push back?

From these what-ifs, the living ideas that are the élan vitals–like Muse–and the Operator rights movement–fueled, in part, by Mx. Watts–tumbled out.

I also wrote this novel because I was interested in a science fiction story that centers art. It’s usually strategy, or science, or politics, or some clever scheme. I love all of that, but for those of us who might have been saved by a paintbrush or a song, art deserves some room.

And lastly, I wrote this story because all of us neurodivergent, queer, traumatized, beautiful, struggling and imperfect, perfectly perfect, marvelous and marginalized hero/ines deserve to see ourselves on the page. Not shiny and oversimplified, not as inspiration porn, not as objects of pity or sad stakes. But as the complex and real people we are, making the best choices we can and creating wonder in a world that doesn’t make it easy, or straight-forward, to survive.

I love this world, this story, and these characters, and I hope you do too.

Athletic male dancing, leaving trails of colors and shapes behind in his movement.

Why “Liminal Universe”

In the category of, “things that make perfect sense in my brain but no one else’s,” is likely why I call the world where Hoshi and many of my other stories are set the “Liminal Universe.” Here’s the missing info.

liminal | ‘limǝnl |
adjective
1. relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process
2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold
from Latin limen ‘threshold’

-Oxford American Dictionary

I started developing this universe over 20 years ago. At the time I was extremely interested in the concept of liminality. Okay, so I’m still extremely interested in the concept of liminality. The first novel I wrote in the world was named Liminal. It takes place about 50 years before the upcoming Resonance (55ish years before Hoshi). I still haven’t managed a draft of it I’m happy with, but hope to eventually as it’s the start of the cycle that Resonance and its companion book Revolution complete.

So how does this ‘verse connect with liminality?

Subliminal vs. supraliminal and thresholds of sensation – This is all about the élans, the aliens, the sensation of someone “walking over your grave” and humanity’s fascination with ghosts on the radio. The world of the aliens and the human world are largely subliminal to each other–outside each others’ ability to perceive–but that does not mean unconnected.

Social liminality – The Operators / nauta occupy a liminal position in society, being both valuable and marginalized. As someone who has always existed in liminal spaces, I tend to write about sectors that don’t fit into social norms, that occupy intersectional positions, or that have large amounts of fluidity, such as communities of individuals who are artists, exiles, or illegal.

The liminality of the Mem – The metaverse-cyberspace-virtual world of the Mem is as inherently liminal as our internet. I mean, really, what the heck is this thing? Is it real? Is it a collective dream? A bunch of zeros and ones or the place where we meet and live?

Literal thresholds between dimensional spaces – Although my SF is grounded in real complexity science and social science, I am not a physicist. So my handwavy way of managing space travel is to throw in some thresholds LOL. The places where space farers transition between realspace and dimensionspace are called, officially, Liminalities. For example, “The Stella-Maru crossed the Saturn Liminality from dimspace into the Sol system.”

Paradigmatic transitions and initial stages of first contact – One of the main reasons why I invented this ‘verse was to explore the transitional stages of paradigm shifts. What makes an entire population change its mind about something or see things in a new way? Also, these stories take place in the initial stage of negotiation and understanding between the humans and élans when outcomes still could go in any direction.

New Song / New Post: It’s the End of the World

Wow the past year was hard; I’m guessing for you too. Even though that meant most of my social media falling by the wayside, I did keep working behind the screens, and have some exciting things to share in the new year.

So happy Solstice season! Here’s a new song. Many thanks to Mr. Alphabet for vocals and City of Troy for visualization. I hope you enjoy it!

I wrote this song accident a few years ago. I was struggling with a scene a novel that required it. After months of failing to get the poetry right from any narrative distance, I closed my eyes, and plunked myself inside of the character, inside of the scene, performing the song. Not only did the lyrics resolve but all of the music too. So technically it’s not my song, it’s my character’s song, but I wrote it, because I wrote my character. Wot!? IT IS WEIRD LOL

Here it is on SoundCloud / audio-only if you’re not keen on video.

Mac Carroll Multiverse Novel Notebook

This is a brief flip-through of the traveler’s notebook I keep for stories in the Mac Carroll multiverse.

Tools I use:

Inserts are for:

  1. Working things out which gets set aside when filled;
  2. Each novel as it develops that gives a longer-term reference for that particular book’s details;
  3. A world bible intended for permanent reference for things like maps, timelines, character details, technology, world-rules, etc.
  4. (Sometimes, but not pictured here, an insert for administrative and marketing type tasks related to stories or books in the world.)

You can read a story in this universe in the anthology Spoon Knife 4: A Neurodivergent Guide to Spacetime from Autonomous Press.

Hearts & Tails: Spacetime and Mathematics

FIRST LAW OF THE REACHABLE NOWS: No alternate versions of a person may be in eye-line of each other within the same now, or both will suffer immediate death by fire.

My novella “Hearts and Tails” in Spoon Knife 4: Spacetime is set in a soft-SF multiverse where WWI never ended, it just kind of petered out into a devastated landscape and a chemical-weapons cold war. There are 90’s tropes galore: magic, bio-engineered mutant powers, impossible psi-ops, and neon-glow cyberspace–depending which of four reachable nows one falls into. And maths. There are maths!!!

Okay, so I really love mathematics. I know this is mostly an unpopular opinion–Or not! Maybe you may share my love!

Macintosh Carroll, the central character of these stories shares my love. He is a maths savant with color-number synaesthesia.

Red-orange-blue-and-black
a place where four four-dimensional world-lines line up creating a single now, a point shared by four spaces, four-D space-time four four four four times four sixteen blue blue blue blue like the bluest blue that ever was–

Mac stops writing and closes his eyes, the numbers washing him like seas. They are beautiful to him, beautiful and terrifying.

Mathematics–loosely, softly anyway–is how I keep the multiverse of the stories self-consistent and believable.

A formal system in mathematics is an engine for creating truths. It consists of axioms (accepted truths), rules (specified behaviors), and theorems (less obvious truths). New truths can be created by applying rules to axioms and/or theorems, so from a little bit of logic whole universes are made. Logical consistency is what builds a formal system, no matter how outlandish its axioms.

In the case of the Mac Carroll Multiverse, there’s a space-time phenomenon that lines up four realities at a single point. Some individuals can slip between the realities at that point. The axioms include the dynamics of the slip, many of the facts of our world circa 1991, plus unique world-facts such the Ottoman Empire dropping a chemical bomb on Germany because, after 40 years, they want out of the Axis. The rules are called The Laws of the Reachable Nows, and are recorded in a book shared by multiverse travelers. From those axioms and rules, the rest of the mulitverse follows.

But because I love disrupting stereotypes as much as I love maths, Mac’s also a shifty low-life punk with a belligerent attitude who is embarrassed by just how deeply he loves maths, and hides it behind a lot of attitude. Cuz nerdiness is punk rock too <3

In Spoon Knife 4: A Neurodivergent Guide to Spacetime. Autonomous Press, Amazon, or ask your local bookstore.

New Book Excerpt & Interview on All The Things

I’ll write more–maybe too much–about this as time goes on but here is the very first post squeeeee. I am too excited/terrified. Terricided? Excitified? I am a weirdo. HERE ARE ALL THE THINGS

1. The wonderful folks at Wordgathering interviewed me about disability fiction, Hoshi, my next book in Hoshi’s world, and other cool stuff! Read my interview!

2. They also published an except from said next book in Hoshi’s world! Read the excerpt!

3. Oh, yeah, there is a next book in that world and here is a preview of its cover

Black background. Jupiter and the four Galilean moos are across the top. Beneath them are rainbow waves above a slender male dancer who is keeling in a single spotlight. Sparks come from his hands and arms. At the bottom, the book title is "Resonance" and the author is "Dora M Raymaker"

TERRICITEIFIED and so many thanks to Wordgathering for being awesome!

Read all their stuff!

More to come!

Hearts & Tails: Source and Memory

My twenties were belligerent. A few decades of living in fear will result in belligerency, apparently. They were also creative, beautiful, and engaged in the 1990’s post-punk industrial world of queered-up vampires, feminist philosophies, anarchist role models, cyberpunk promises, and aggro-rage mixed-media music, poetry, performance, fuck-this-shit manifestos. This photo of me says, “Fuck you buster, I’ve got a bad-ass custom-built dream-computer, boom box, no gender, and a bad attitude, and I’m not afraid to Rage-Art, so don’t even think about stopping me.”

slightly scowling white person in their 20's with shoulder-length frizzy hair and a white shirt and black vest playing solitaire on a chunky CRT monitor with a boom box, printer, and beige computer tower in the background

My twenties were about danger and anger, but also about community, and the protective factors that come of sharing cultural space. As we got older, we spread into a diaspora. We calmed down enough to get Real Jobs(TM)–which then ate our lives. Shit happened, and not much can be done about that, but I think we’re the poorer for it.

The Mac Carroll multiverse, where my Spoon Knife 4 novella “Hearts and Tails” is set, is my call-back to my twenties. Everyone’s angry and hungry, but they’re also a tight creative community.

There’s “the epic industrial act Recyclr…They’ve got a killer chemical synth, more vacuum amps than can fit on The Parlor’s stage, and Mikal can do more with a fiddle bow and the literal trash people throw at him for a challenge than should be possible outside of actual magic.”

There’s Mac’s best friend Florence…”He and Anais are working up a new performance piece called ‘Nerves.’ Anais calls it ‘a post-modern tribute to nihilism in the age of mutually assured chemical annihilation,’ but Florence describes it as, ‘a multi-media bit on fuck the system, plus we get the audience drunk!'”

There’s Mac’s fierce love of his friends, that he has a hard time expressing in any way that doesn’t come across as just belligerent. “Maybe Flo will want to go out, burn off some of his rage with me on the dance floor. Maybe then he’ll tell me what happened to his eye so I can make the motherfuckers pay.”

Outsiders drawn inside to build our own community, fearing the vulnerability it creates even as we desperately craved it.

The Mac Carroll Multiverse is smaller and more personal than the Liminal Universe where Hoshi is set. Being an alternate 1991, it’s got a lot more of our world to it, and, for reasons associated with the space-time phenomena that creates a multiverse at its heart, all of its stories take place within the confines of a single city. It’s SF/F, sure, cuz I’m not a memoirist, but it’s my 1991 too. My twenties. My community that I wouldn’t be alive today without <3

“Hearts and Tails” is available in Spoon Knife 4: A Neurodivergent Guide to Spacetime. Autonomous Press, Amazon, or ask your local bookstore.

Mathpunk Novella “Hearts and Tails” in Spoon Knife 4

Exciting fiction news! My short mathpunk novella “Hearts and Tails” will be appearing in this year’s anthology Spoon Knife 4: A Neurodivergent Guide to Space-time

The story takes place in an alternate 1991 where there are no computers, but there just might be magic, as well as a space-time connection to alternate realities. Math! Magic! Synaestesia! Mean secret agents trying to keep our heroes down! Hooray!

The anthology will be coming out later this year from Autonomous Press 

Theme: Overlay by Kaira 2020 Dora M Raymaker
Portland, Oregon