Tag: fiction

A Walk through Red City

Red City, in my novel Hoshi and the Red City Circuit (among other tales), takes its diversity and streetwise from New York, its green-space-urban-planning from left-coast Portland, and its waterfront docks from “the Other Portland.” Five-hundred-ish years from now (assuming we make it that long), I figure we’ve learned a few things about how to make a giant city livable, especially if environmental and social concerns serve as a check on greed–albeit as the price the corporations feel they must pay for continued dynastic control.

Red City is divided into nine districts. Walking through the districts, in order of founding:

1. Landing is where the colony ship landed, and where the first settlement was built. Originally of historical interest, all the interesting bits were destroyed during later city development. It’s now a mix of businesses and residences, pining a little for its lost past.

2. Shirring Point is where the settlement first expanded. The peninsula developed rapidly around the fishing industry, then collapsed under its own weight as the settlement grew and moved west into Pier. While Shirring retains much of historical interest, and has a storied history, it is “the bad part of town,” abandoned by law enforcement and left to its own. It still hauls in the best fish.

3. Pier District replaced Shirring as the main fishing area, and was well-planned from the start. This is the area of most interest to tourists, and contains a combination of residences, entertainments, points of historical and natural interest, as well as some venerable businesses and institutions such as the Red City Reporter.

4. & 5. Husson and Hill Districts grew up around the same time along with the Cassiopiean red rye agricultural industry (what Red City gets its name from). They are primarily residential/industrial and carry much of the daily business of the city. Husson has a slightly artier and younger edge. Hill has better views.

6. Central developed as a link between the waterfront and the agricultural industry, and the government and key corporations made their home there. Lan Qui Park was cut along with Central to keep the city “breathing.” Red City has a unique–and uniquely strong–local, elected government, with representatives from each of the nine districts responsible for policy, and overseen by a mayor and their chosen legal council.

7. & 8. West of Central (WoC, to locals) and East of Central filled themselves in on their own as the city expanded. The space port, which handles only citizen transport (Big Island IEX handles commercial/industrial import-export), was once part of Husson. After it was rezoned into WoC, and that area took on a more industrial tone, particularly toward the south and west. Both districts serve as transitional zones between the more heavily corporate Landing, Central, and Pier districts, and the more residential Husson and Hill districts.

9. Diamond was the last district to form, and it was rezoned from Pier and WoC through lobbying from the very wealthy corporate executives who resided there. Diamond doesn’t just house the very wealthy, it also houses Red City’s upper-crust arts, entertainment, and shopping areas, and is a significant tourist destination. Broadway Beach–the cove that Diamond was zoned in particular to swallow up, is one of the most beautiful natural places in an urban environment in all the inhabited worlds.

Paperback and ebook available from autpress.com; free ebook with paperback purchase! Also available in paperback and Kindle from amazon.com, from Powell’s City of Books, or ask at your local bookstore.

Interview about Hoshi on Spectrumly Speaking

Becca Lory Hector’s latest Spectrumly Speaking podcast is up, with an interview with me. We talk about my novel, Hoshi and the Red City Circuit, and related topics. Talking with Becca is always delightful! Enjoy!

Autism in Literature, with Dora Raymaker, Ph.D. | Spectrumly Speaking ep. 54

From the website: “In this episode, host Becca Lory, CAS, BCCS and guest co-host Dena Gassner welcome back Dora Raymaker, Ph.D.. As you may recall, Dora is a scientist, writer, multi-media artist, and activist whose work across disciplines focuses on social justice, critical systems thinking, complexity science, and the value of diversity. Dora is a research assistant professor at Portland State University in the School of Social Work, where she leads community-engaged services research in collaboration with disability communities. Dora is a queer, autistic person with a deep love of soft yarn, restless cities, extreme writing events, and hard-boiled cyber-noir. Her latest book is titled Hoshi and the Red City Circuit. The three discuss Dora’s new book, how writing became important to her at a very early age, and why people with autism rarely are the protagonists in fiction.”

Webcomic (re)Launch – Illustrated World History

I’ve gotten back on a drawing kick, and revived my old webcomic project–this time with (hopefully) new wisdom about how to work the medium. These stories are set about 30 years prior to Hoshi. Operators have no rights. Almost no one knows about the aliens. Also, space pirates make me happy.

read Episode 0: Introduction

Future episodes will be less panoramic and info-dumpy and more normal stories 🙂

Cassiopeia Prime, Eden with a Price

Hoshi and the Red City Circuit is set on the exoplanet Cassiopeia-Prime. The Mem’s Public Pedia has the following facts to present about it:

Star System – Cadmus

Natural Satellites – Cepheus, Phoenix

Major Settlements –

  • Red City (pop. 18M, Main continental plate)
  • Big Island Interstellar Exchange (pop. 50K, Atlantis undersea plate)
  • Phoenix Station (pop. 3M, Phoenix satellite, orbital)
  • United Farming Territories 1 – 7 (pop. 250K, Main continental plate)

GNP – Corporate exchange (30%); Tourism (25%); Cassiopiean red rye (15%); fish (15%); whiskey (5%); gems and minerals (%5); misc. arts, crafts, and other industries (%5)

History and Culture – Discovered in 2243 and colonized in 2316, Cassiopeia Prime is considered both the most ideal and the most frustrating orbital in all of inhabited space. An “Eden World,” Cass-Prime has Earth-norm conditions with a temperate, stable, level 3 ecosystem and a superior equilibrium which causes even the weather to be predictable. However, only three percent of Cass-Prime’s crust is above sea level and only seven percent of that mass can be developed without risk to the planet’s ecosystem. Although Cass-Prime has always been a part of the New Organization of Federal Banking Worlds, its unique role as a crossroads for commerce, as well as its mix of urban centers and agricultural industries, has given it a greater cultural-political autonomy than most NOFBW bodies, as well as a liberal sensibility and a reputation as a center for the arts.

Red City – Early settlement planning zoned the Main continent’s north-west peninsula for the bulk of human habitation, with a carrying capacity of no greater than 18.6M. Architected in a combined style of Neo-Feng-Shui and Eco-Industrial, and run more-so by its own City Council system than by its assigned NOFBW Controllers, Red City is considered the most livable of all large urban centers.

Red City consists of nine districts, in order of founding: Landing, Shirring Point, Pier, Husson, Hill, Central, West of Central, East of Central, Diamond. NOTE: Due to modern strategies for containing crime, tourists are strongly advised to avoid the Shirring Point area in its entirety.

Paperback and ebook available from autpress.com; free ebook with paperback purchase! Also available in paperback and Kindle from amazon.com, from Powell’s City of Books, or ask at your local bookstore.

Nemeses, Frenemies, and Kinda Creepy Social Workers: the Antagonists of Daily Life

When I have frustrations I can’t resolve, and don’t know what to do with, I put them into story. In story they can be fixed, or at least examined in a cathartic way. I suspect that’s true of many story-tellers.

The antagonists in Hoshi and the Red City Circuit are less epic evils and more the irritants of daily life, which somehow feel more epic when they are happening to us. Martin Ho, Hoshi’s ex-co-worker “nemesis,” is a composite of a number of co-workers I’ve had. I feel a little bad about that, because some of Martin’s antagonistic traits come from otherwise awesome people I really liked–but my guess is that if I were to appear in their books I, too, might be a bit of an antagonist. I do try to make it up to them by the end.

As far as Luzzie Vai, the best I can guess is that my love and need for antiheroes needed somewhere to go, and since Hoshi, despite her grit, is not an antihero, Luzzie sprang up as her equal and her opposite. I’ve had plenty of frenemies, people I don’t want to like because I don’t trust them, or they are simply awful, but I still have to deal with them. So I find something I can respect about them in order to accomplish what needs to be done–and make sure I’ve got a plan for when that knife lands in the small of my back.

Luzzie and Martin, like Hoshi, are Operators, and they represent choices about disability identity that don’t sit well with me. Luzzie encourages people to hide their disability, to avoid disclosure, which often comes at great cost in health and wellbeing. The drug he pedals is my fictional metaphor for “passing.” Martin is an elitist, the one who feels his difference makes him superior, and he should be given gifts for simply existing. His sense of entitlement is something few us can afford, and can harm our fight for civil rights.

Mai Chandra though–Mai is a direct consequence of my awful experiences with the vocational rehabilitation system in the US, including with an abusive rehabilitation counselor. Fiction can call out reality in ways that reality won’t allow, particularly from disempowered voices. I wish Mai didn’t exist. But she does; some antagonists of daily life can become life-threatening to those of us in vulnerable positions.

Paperback and ebook available from autpress.com; free ebook with paperback purchase! Also available in paperback and Kindle from amazon.com, from Powell’s City of Books, or ask at your local bookstore.

Spoon Knife 3: Incursions is OUT!

Happy Equinox! Spoon Knife 3: Incursions is OUT in all senses of the word!

I am a pile of melted squee to find myself listed along with these incredible authors.

This volume contains my short story “Heat Seeking Entities,” which is set in the same universe as Hoshi and the Red City Circuit only a few decades before Integration Law passes, and on a much colder world.

SPOON KNIFE 3: INCURSIONS is now available from Autonomous Press. The third volume of the annual Spoon Knife anthology features original stories from Judy Grahn, Steve Silberman, Mike Jung, Dora M. Raymaker, Sean Craven, Verity Reynolds, Ada Hoffmann, Andrew M. Reichart, Alyssa Gonzalez, Andee Joyce, N.I. Nicholson, Alyssa Hillary, Jeff Baker, Alexeigyniax, R.L. Mosswood, B. Allen, Eliza Redwood, Old Cutter John, Melanie Bell, and Nick Walker. Genres range from memoir to wild speculative fiction.

Order direct from Autonomous Press – order the paperback direct from Autonomous Press and get the ebook version for free.

Order from Amazon

Or ask your local bookstore to order it and carry it!

Power, Allies, and Friendship in Hoshi and the Red City Circuit

Protagonists are defined as much by their interactions with other characters as they are by their own actions. Work-shopping the rough “draft zero” of Hoshi and the Red City Circuit through my writing group, a first-chapter comment went: “That Hoshi chooses to work for a police department that once owned her makes her relationship with Inspector Sorreno really complicated.”

Yes, it does. They are friends, and there is mutual respect. But Sorreno is ever in a position of power as both Police Inspector and normal, and the chasm of lived experience has Hoshi ever-cautious of the distance between them–distance which Sorreno, due to her privilege, is oblivious to. Interacting with allies is often like this in the real world–equals in some ways, but in other ways there will always be a chasm more visible to one side than the other.

About a third of the way through draft zero, my writing group had a new comment: “We’ve seen Hoshi interact with people who have more power than her, and with people who have less power than her, but we haven’t seen her interact much with anyone who is a peer, a friend on even footing. What’s that like? What’s would that reveal about her?”

Kelvin always appeared in the second chapter. Thinking about the peer comment though, I ended up including him throughout the story. Kelvin isn’t an Operator, but he’s not entirely a normal either. He’s like my neurodivergent-but-not-autistic friends, or my friends who would be considered an “autistic cousin” as they are closer to my end of the spectrum. He’s an amalgam of a bunch of people I like, and was named after the only person at my baby sitter who was ever a friend to me. His engineering whimsy delights me. He has been marginalized for his occupation, and for his borderline Operator-ness, and for where he chooses to place his loyalties. The chasm of lived experience doesn’t divide them, although they are maligned (and revered) for different reasons; Kelvin is a fiercely wise choice of a friend.

Paperback and ebook available from autpress.com; free ebook with paperback purchase! Also available in paperback and Kindle from amazon.com, from Powell’s City of Books, or ask at your local bookstore.

Reading at Another Read Through 9/20/2018: Neurodivergent Queer Heroes

Join me at Another Read Through for a reading from my science fiction mystery novel Hoshi and the Red City Circuit, as well as conversation about my neurodivergent, disabled, and queer heroes; cool tech; systems science; and cantankerous detectives. I’ll have books available to sign and buy.

Date: 9/20/2018
Time: 7:00 PM
Place: Another Read Through, 3932 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR

Here are links to the venue’s FaceBook event and event calendar.

Stop by and support a lovely local bookstore!

Accessible Detectives and Recasting the Noir Investigator as a Tiny Espresso-swigging Woman

I created Hoshi Archer because I was in trouble. I wanted to write the two-part epic of the end of Operator enslavement, narrated by an unreliable, drugged-up, mega-star anti-hero, but after ten years of wanting I still couldn’t write narration anyone understood, let alone liked. So, in an equal an opposite reaction of frustration, I thought, Fuckit I’m going to create a reliable first-person narrator who is easy to love.

Hoshi Archer began as an exercise in what makes an accessible character with a reason to tell their story. Detectives are great because they notice things–accurately–and they have a reason to deliver exposition. It’s easy to sympathize with nice people who have been through mean circumstances, yet retain their niceness. Sympathetic characters love something. The reader shares their aims. And they have humor–or at least a voice that is delightful or beautiful to read. The glitch being that as an Operator Hoshi isn’t wired like most readers; she’s neurodivergent and that makes her less straight-forwardly like them. But at least I wasn’t also dealing with heavy anti-hero stuff on top of that. Maybe I could learn something.

Hoshi is a re-imagining of the hard-boiled detective as a small woman who downs espresso instead of whisky, and has little social privilege. How would Sam Spade have been different if he’d had to worry about being the victim of a hate crime? How would Mike Hammer have been different if he had a stigmatized disability? How would Philip Marlow have been different if he relied on assistive technology to survive?

After growing up with little power over her life, shifting social policy “allows” Hoshi to be a detective instead of a programmer. She is in love with her city, despite its cruelty toward Operators. She can manipulate information systems with her mind, and lives in constant fear of losing everything. She shares my hatred of furniture. She’s the first character I ever had readers love as much as I did. Because doing so is in her nature (whether she’ll admit to it or not), Hoshi got me out of trouble.

Paperback and ebook available from autpress.com; free ebook with paperback purchase! Also available in paperback and Kindle from amazon.com, from Powell’s City of Books, or ask at your local bookstore.

Heroes Like Me: Neurodivergent Protagonists in Hoshi and the Red City Circuit

Growing up, the closest thing to a hero like me was Charles Wallace in Madeline L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time. Outsider characters sometimes came close–psychics and rebels, like Katie in Willo Davis Robert’s book The Girl with the Silver Eyes, which I re-read into pulp. Of course there were many heroes I loved–like Ged in Ursula LeGuin’s A Wizard of Earthsea–but none of them were like me. They were like the majority of readers, and I am…not.

I cannot overstate the psycho-social impact of having no heroes who share your race/gender/ethnicity/religion/sexuality/abilities. Sometimes, maybe, if you’re lucky you’ll get a villain, a “magical cripple,” or some poor, unfortunate stakes character whose purpose is to pity or turn a plot point. But never a hero. The underlying message is: people like you are never heroes. And then, the usual cascade of oppressions: you have less value, less agency, less virtue, less power, less less less. You will never be the hero in your own story or anyone else’s, but here’s a penny for your cup, now don’t you go scaring us you hear?

So, um, fuck that? I want stories with heroes like me. Preferably written by people like me. And since there really aren’t m/any, I will make them.

Hoshi and the Red City Circuit is set in a world where neurodivergent characters experience both immense power in their ability to control the interstellar network of quantum computers, and immense disempowerment through centuries of institutionalized oppression. Although the neural kink experienced by my characters is fictional, it is based on the way some of us experience autism. There are a number of complex reasons why I wrote this book, but one of the heaviest drivers was the need for neurodiverse characters in fiction to be taken from the margins into the center. Not as villains, not as charity or magical-cripple plot-points-of-convenience, or as faddish literary devices (I’m looking at you oh Curious Incident and all the harm you bring), but as protagonists.

In Hoshi and the Red City Circuit, the story’s hero, her best nemesis, and her worst frenemy are neurodivergent. They are heroes like me.

And maybe like you too?

Paperback and ebook available from autpress.com; free ebook with paperback purchase! Also available in paperback and Kindle from amazon.com, from Powell’s City of Books, or ask at your local bookstore.

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