The fourth installment of our “Author Spotlight” series. This month we are featuring contributors to Cycatrix Press’s forthcoming anthology, A Dark Phantastique.
Bruce Taylor’s “Charles Out of La-La Land” is a crazy tale about a man’s quest for love:
‘Zident Gum,’ she says, and she breathes out and he can practically smell her breath and it reeks of sex and it’s like he’s thirteen again when his dong was so hard at that crisp age that he feared that he would try to put it into anything that moved. ‘Zident Gum,’ she says again, her eyes are brown and dilated, her hair long and dark and silky, her lips full, red-lipsticked, the teeth white, and he looks for the clues and suddenly understands what she’s saying: Hey! Chew this and get laid…“
Taylor has perhaps the longest story explanation in the book:
“A long time ago in a universe far, far away from here, there was a channel called The History Channel that was actually interested in—history. More often than not, they had pretty good programming. Once in a while, they let slip something that, in the end, probably made someone real unhappy—maybe a program about a Nazi, by the name of Reinhardt Galen and his deal with the O.S.S. (which became the future C.I.A.) right at the end of World War II. In exchange for information about Stalin and the Soviet Union, Galen and some of his pals, got a free ride with the O.S.S. and protection; in short, the O.S.S. was infiltrated by the Nazis, according to the documentary. It was a hard thing to watch and at first, I was appalled. But then, not much later came the “liberation” of Iraq and then Afghanistan (wasn’t it Paul Wolfowitz, former deputy Pentagon chief, a major force in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, who said our troops would be greeted as liberators and be drowned in flowers?), and I really began to get it: appalling as it was that the Nazis found a comfy place in what came to be the C.I.A., the American mindset that allowed that infiltration to occur—it really was there all along. One need only look at the treatment of Native Americans to see that. Maybe what bothered me was how blatant the admission was—to see it just out there on the History Channel for everyone to see. Pretty damning, except for one thing: no one cared.
In my story, Charles comes to understand why he didn’t care. When you are anesthetized day in and day out by subtle and not so subtle corporate propaganda that says We Can Do No Wrong: we are not like our enemies, we have it good, everybody envies us, we don’t have to look at our behavior, our impact is always good, we don’t have to look at our history, we are beyond reproach, we have a right to make the world safe for democracy, everybody loves us, we make no mistakes, we are right, everybody else is wrong—and therefore we can’t imagine for an instant why anybody would be pissed at us. And our media goes right along with these pretty self-deluding lies. And what happens when you are suddenly forced to look at the lies? ‘I’ve been had, motherfuckers!’ thinks Charles. Charles truly gets it. What if we all got it all at once? And what is the Price of not getting it? How about being the midst of the sixth great mass extinction? Or the horror of global warming; we’re way past the tipping point and total loss of the Greenland Ice Cap could happen twenty years from now. (But given how we keep getting the predictions wrong for climate changes—remember, up to five years ago, the idea of an ice-free Arctic summer was seen as not possible until 2050. Now it could happen this year, 2014 or 2015, and with the warmer ocean, the methane hydrates, kept frozen and asleep by the cold ocean and pressure, well, look like they are waking up. Methane is twenty-fives times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2.) If you talk about this, if you ask questions as to why Bush and company got away with lying to get us into Iraq, if you ask why there is such a discrepancy between what Obama said he was going to do in 2008 and what he has actually done—if you ask about what we are going to do about being under the NSA thumb; in short, if you decide not to be anesthetized any longer, you, like Charles, may well say, ‘I’ve been had, motherfuckers.’ Because, in truth, we have been had. Big time.
And all the Zident Gum, Scorpions, shopping trips to Maul-Mart won’t change a thing because once you are awake, you can’t go back to sleep without having nightmares, knowing indeed that, in the words of Bradbury, ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes.'”
Bruce Taylor (aka “Mr. Magic Realism”) was born and resides in Seattle. Attending the University of Washington, he studied writing under Jack Cady, then attended Clarion West Writers Workshop taught by Avram Davidson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Harlan Ellison, Robert Silverberg, Terry Carr, and Frank Herbert. He has sold work to Robert Silverberg’s New Dimension series and publishes a fusion of magic realism with science. With Elton Elliott, former
editor of the Science Fiction Review, he co-edited the anthology Like Water for Quarks, examining the intersection of magic realism and science fiction. Mr. Elliott has called Bruce “the transformational figure for science fiction.”