Strange Science: Connections between Music and Science

There are many connections between music and science, and the Kennedy Center’s ArtsEdge website has loads of articles on these connections, including things like sound waves and acoustics, why the holes on violins are shaped the way they are, and the physical training that musicians need.

The website also includes information about using these resources for classroom teaching, and has many more related resources for all sorts of interesting topics!

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I Didn’t Break the Lamp: Interview with Vivian Li

Today, we’re talking with Vivian Li, whose story, “Wild,” will appear in I Didn’t Break the Lamp!

DV: Tell us a bit about yourself!

Vivian Li: I’m an aspiring writer, musician, composer, and inventor. My favorite things to do include writing, creating or imagining dance choreography, singing, composing, and reading about how things work. I’m currently studying English and Philosophy at the University of Toronto, and am hoping to apply for a MFA in Creative Writing next year. In the future, I want to continue learning as much as I can about the world (within reason, so that I don’t overwhelm myself) and be more attuned to who I am and where I am mentally and physically.

DV: What inspired you to write “Wild” for I Didn’t Break the Lamp?

VL: I love nature, and while looking out my living room window one morning, I saw the weeping willow trees. There was something poignant and important in that moment, and I wanted to capture it all in a story. Often, I’m not sure what happens when I start writing, as it begins with an emotional pull, and I end up following it into the end.

DV: Your main character deals with dreams, visions, and memories that may or may not be real. Does that uncertainty make it easier or more difficult to tell her story?

I feel that uncertainty is always there and prevalent in my life, and that becomes reflected in the characters I write. For me, her voice came naturally to me after I reached emotionally and mentally into Nature.

DV: Your story has a very poetic feeling to the language within it. Was that an intentional choice for this specific story, or is this a common trait to your writing?

VL: The poetic feeling in my stories sometimes emerges, and it just felt right for this narrative. I wanted to capture the freedom and senselessness of Nature and to me, the greater unknown feels like this endless and continuous rolling, mixture, and expansion of Nature.

DV: If you had an imaginary friend growing up, what was their name, and what were they like?

VL: I didn’t have an imaginary friend but I loved my stuffed animals very much! I used to bring along a stuffed Tiger with me everywhere, as well as a skinny polar bear. They were beloved and I still think fondly of them to this day.

DV: What’s on the horizon for you?

VL: I’m currently looking to find a home for my speculative fiction collection, and am editing a fantasy novel in the interim. I was recently a Finalist for the Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest and longlisted for the 2019 OWT Short Fiction Prize. If you want to read more of my writing, feel free to check my website or follow me on Twitter (@eliktherain)!


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MSJ Alumni Writing Poetry, Teaching, and Podcasting

MSJ alum Deborah L. Davitt has a collection of her speculative fiction poetry coming out from Finishing Line Press on October 11th titled The Gates of Never, which you can pre-order now!

If you’re in the Cambridge, Massachusetts, area, MSJ alum Valerie Lute is teaching a class on Writing the Strange through the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, which begins on September 18th.

MSJ alum Rick Tobin is using his metaphyscial experiences to create a podcast about metaphysics, called The Next Room.

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I Didn’t Break the Lamp: Interview with Die Booth

Today, we’re talking with Die Booth about his story for I Didn’t Break the Lamp.

DV: Tell us a bit about yourself!

Die Booth: Hi, I’m James, but I write under the pen name Die Booth, which has been my nickname for as long as I can remember. I live in Chester, England, which is a beautiful city packed with hundreds of ghosts, who I’m always trying to make friends with. When I’m not assembling unsettling stories, I enjoy making other stuff–drawing, sewing, metal, and woodwork. I love goth music and I co-run and DJ at a local goth night.

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Fiction: Tempo Rubato

An essay by an unnamed musician, as provided by Jonathan Danz
Art by Errow Collins

Tonight, backstage is too hot, too dark, too much like some high-ceilinged mausoleum straight out of one of those old Friday night TV horror shows. The strap of my dinged-up Telecaster bites into my shoulder. Tonight, like most nights in recent memory, this guitar is like my very own stone of Sisyphus. Truth be told, I don’t know if I can roll it up the mountain one more fucking time. I don’t know if I can go out on stage yet again and pretend I’m me.

Vegas–swarm cams, drinkbots, holo-betting, omni-feeds, every last bit of it–can go to hell. The guy on stage now, the Buddy Holly impersonator, even with his bitglam in effect, comes off more like an impersonator of a Buddy Holly impersonator. He’s opening with “Peggy Sue.” Poor bastard. There’s nowhere to go from there but downhill.

Everyone’s an entertainer these days, what with voice plugins, appearance modifiers, movement enhancer neuro-mods, and every other trick. There’s no work at the art anymore, just show up and let the tech do the work.

Me and my new band, we’re the only completely analog performers in Vegas. Re-Invaded And It Feels So Good, that’s our act. Real clever stuff. The crowds eat it up. It’s fresh, in a manner of speaking, especially after seeing a hundred enhanced shows in a hundred casinos. After a while, it all blurs together.

I know, I know, that’s what they said when we were all flooding into the U.S. during the British Invasion. I’m a connoisseur of irony. But when something stands out from the pop-star one-offs and Rat Pack 3.0 crooners, people take notice. People don’t know they’re craving something different until they get it.

These Vegas performers could stand a lesson in “less is more,” but instead they’re all in on everything. All that tech must seem like magic to these fools, but tech ain’t magic. Believe me, I know from magic. Not like this Buddy Holly guy.

Look, I liked Buddy Holly back in the day–we all did–but that sound aged about as well as a bottle of piss. When you hear it, you know exactly when it came out. It never evolved. Sometimes I wonder what would’ve happened if his plane hadn’t crashed.

Sometimes I wonder if Buddy wasn’t the lucky one.

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Strange Science: A Reinterpretation of Saber-Tooth Cats

Fossilized Smilodon fatalis (saber-tooth cat)Paleontologists working with fossilized saber-tooth cat remains found preserved in the La Brea tar pits in California have determined that some of what we previously believed about these prehistoric big cats may be incorrect.

Many illustrations of saber-tooth cats show them taking down large prey animals, such as bison or horses. Paleontologists now believe that their prey was smaller animals, such as tapirs or deer. Rather than hunting out in the open, these big cats were likely hunting in more forested environments, where the smaller herbivores resided. Unfortunately for them, their dietary choices meant that when these forest-dwelling herbivores began to die out, so too did the saber-tooth cats. Meanwhile, other predators, who were more adaptable in their prey choices, survived longer, some even into the modern day.

You can read more about this new research and conclusions here!

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I Didn’t Break the Lamp: Interview with Jade Black

Simple empty bed with white metal railing on three sidesJade Black is another author who is new to MSJ, and today she’s chatting with us about her I Didn’t Break the Lamp story.

DV: Tell us a bit about yourself!

Jade Black: I’ve held a variety of jobs that have influenced my writing topics; I’ve picked up bodies for funeral homes, dug deep into the limestone bedrock of Miami as an archaeologist, studied human remains and the process of decay at the original body farm in Tennessee, and currently I work as a 911 calltaker for a densely populated urban center in Florida. I tend to fall into employment that isn’t exactly marketing at job fairs and which cater to life after death, no matter how long it’s been.

DV: What inspired you to write “The Boy Atop the Bed” for I Didn’t Break the Lamp?

JB: Honestly I was getting kind of sick of the paranormal romance stories where the paranormal element is a masculine character saving a feminine one, and I wanted to turn that on its head a bit. I was looking for a reason that someone’s existence might revolve around someone else through no fault of their own, and the whole monster under the bed idea caught my attention even prior to this anthology being announced. When I started playing around with the idea I found that the lovesick hero being automatically rewarded with the attention of the victim just didn’t sit right either, so we ended up with Rella not being rewarded for being a little bit of a creeper, no matter how sympathetic she might be.

DV: Your story being told from the perspective of the imaginary acquaintance makes it very charming and sweet. Were there parts of the story that you found it difficult or very easy to write from this perspective?

JB: Thanks! I found it easier to write from the story of the imaginary acquaintance, especially one hovering around the high school age because it’s a time of emotional upheaval. You’re trying on new personalities, seeing what fits and what doesn’t, and trying to see who you are as a person outside the easiness of childhood where your clothes and who you see and what you do is pre-chosen for you. Rella trying on different appearances based on what she saw in magazines resonated with me because I saw so much of that in high school.

DV: Your story includes a character who is also an author. Does the book he’s writing have anything to do with his experiences in this story, or is it something entirely different? What do you imagine it being about?

JB: I think having an imaginary acquaintance necessitates having an imagination to begin with; it’s one of the reasons you see imaginary friends mostly in children, and then as they age and start to learn the boundaries of what’s real and what isn’t, you see the friends just dissolve into the ether. Authors have quite large imaginations by trade; it’s one of the things that lets us see beyond the life we’re currently living, and my character still being able to see his imaginary friend as a teenager kind of fell in well with being a fantasy-oriented kid, and by extension someone interested in writing. What he’s writing didn’t have much to do with his interactions with Rella, but being willing to believe in fantasy did influence his willingness to not run screaming for the hills.

DV: What’s on the horizon for you?

JB: I was recently published in the anthologies Magical Crime Scene Investigation, Mind Candy Too, and will be included in the anthology Chrysalis later this year. Recently I’ve gotten more involved in writing more military fantasy and supernatural law enforcement, and that’s been fun to play around with.

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MSJ Alumni with New Stories Online!

Cupcakes decorated with little icing and fruit on topA few of of our MSJ alumni have new stories available to read online!

Marlee Jane Ward’s story, “The Beasts and the Birthday,” is available at Curious Fictions.

MSJ alum Deborah L. Davitt teamed up with fellow writer Kurt Pankau to write “Sweet Tooth,” which is available at The Arcanist.

Liz Hufford has a story, “In Other Words,” at Flash Fiction Magazine.

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That Man Behind the Curtain – July 2019

Photo of a table covered in books at a library.

Our table at Pulicon!

A relatively quiet month. We got in interior art for I Didn’t Break the Lamp, laid out the ebook, and sent it to contributors for review. Here are some numbers.

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Fiction: On a Cure for Werewolf Bites

From the research journals of Louis Pasteur, as told by David Harrison
Art by Leigh Legler

12 August 1889

A man was brought to my Institut late tonight. Three foreigners brought the man to the front gates, gravely wounded. The night guard attempted to turn them away, but they said the man had been bitten by a rabid animal and implored him to call for me.

I arrived shortly before midnight and, with the help of his friends, placed him on the table in one of my laboratories. Between us we removed his trousers, which were badly torn and blood-stained, and I examined the wound on his leg. He had been bitten twice–one was a superficial wound, not much more than a graze; the second was a deep bite with multiple punctures and compound fractures to both the tibia and fibula of his right leg.

I cleaned the outside of the wounds as best I could and sent the night guard to wake my friend and colleague Docteur Grancher to deal with the fracture. Between us, we were able to set the leg and dress his wounds. It was necessary for Docteur Grancher to administer injections of cocaine to numb the leg, but despite this, the patient passed out when we set the bones.

The patient is resting, and I will review in the morning and speak with his friends about how he came to be bitten.


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