Strange Science: Waterfall Formation

Small waterfalls and a still pool of water in a forested areaBy simulating a river in a lab, scientists have learned that sometimes waterfalls can be created spontaneously.

Previously, geologists believed that outside factors were required for the formation of a waterfall. Events like an earthquake might cause a shift in the terrain, creating a waterfall where there previously wasn’t one. Slower events, like erosion and sea-level change, could also cause waterfalls. In the lab, however, the man-made river’s turbulence was enough to create a waterfall without any outside factors.

By using polyurethane foam, scientists can simulate the effects that water has on different types of rock, but at a much quicker pace than occurs in nature. And this test process showed the scientists how water and sediment could create a waterfall even without any other events. As the sediment built up in certain portions of the man-made stream, it created a sort of “lip” that then caused a waterfall to form.

You can read more about this study, and its applications in the field, here.

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I Didn’t Break the Lamp: Interview with Kayleigh Taylor

Today, we’re featuring our interview with the youngest of our authors in I Didn’t Break the Lamp, Kayleigh Taylor!

DV: Tell us a bit about yourself!

Kayleigh Taylor: I wasn’t born in Portland. I was born in China, far away. Mommy and Daddy adopted me when I was nine months old. I’m going to be 18 in September. I started writing in elementary school. Writing stories helped my brain focus a lot better. When the teacher is talking it sometimes makes my brain feel liked a sweaty block of ice!

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

KT: Usually, I have someone help me with my homework, but I didn’t have a tutor for a while last year. Since Peachy (my cat) sleeps with me every night, and watches me do my homework, and I was having a really hard time in my classes, I thought it would be great if he was my tutor!

DV: Tell us a bit about how your writing process works.

KT: I write almost every day, either on paper or typing into a computer in Word or Google. I just write ideas as they come. Then I add punctuation and capitalization. Sometimes I forget, but I try to do it by myself. Then I have Daddy help me edit it, to make sure the lines are in the right place, and all the periods are in. We talk about the story, to make sure the best ideas come out.

DV: How is your driving training going?

KT: I got my learner’s permit after seven tries, even though people didn’t think I could! But then I started having seizures, and that meant I couldn’t drive. I’m on some medication that is helping a lot, but now my learner’s permit has expired! So I’m studying every day to retake the permit test. Hopefully I will have a new permit and be practicing driving again before this book comes out!

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

So Peachy is like an imaginary friend because he’s covered in cat fur, and he sometimes is invisible. He’s my real life cat, but he talks to me sometimes, but mostly about life, not homework.

DV: What’s on the horizon for you?

KT: I wrote a children’s picture book called “Target’s Taxi Trouble,” about a cat (and his friends) who drive taxis. We thought we had someone to do the pictures, but she decided it would be too hard. So we are looking for an illustrator to do the drawings.

(Kayleigh’s dad, Calvin Taylor, added the following: All of the above is from Kayleigh. She didn’t really want to talk about her disability, but said it was okay for me to say something. Kayleigh was diagnosed with Intellectual Disability when she was quite young. However, she doesn’t let that stop her from pursuing her passions. I don’t know anyone, youth or adult, who works as hard as she does. We’re a family of readers and writers, but Kayleigh is the first one to get paid for her writing. This makes her parents very proud (though Peachy claims it is all his doing).)

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Review of Tales for the Camp Fire

Tales for the Camp Fire (Tomes & Coffee Press, 2019), edited by Loren Rhoads, is an anthology of horror stories from Northern California authors who banded together to raise funds for the victims of the November 2018 fire that destroyed the town of Paradise, California. The anthology includes both reprints and original stories, so it’s a wonderful place to re-read an old favorite or find a new favorite creepy tale.

My hands down favorite story of the bunch was “The Quarry” by Ben Monroe, which had a Stranger Things meets Cthulhu vibe that was executed superbly. But this wasn’t the only story I loved. I also enjoyed Jeff Seeman’s creepy take on a ghost story involving a trucker in “Road Kill.” “Seven Seconds” by Erika Mailman is a beautiful blending of history and the twentieth century. And “Ada, Awake” by L. S. Johnson is a story both lovely and creepy about a woman coming into her own.

If you love scary stories, check out Tales for the Camp Fire and see which ones creep you out the most. You can find the anthology for purchase online!

The editor provided us a copy of the anthology for review consideration.

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I Didn’t Break the Lamp: Interview with Troy H. Gardner

Today we’re talking with Troy H. Gardner, who has his first story with MSJ in I Didn’t Break the Lamp!

DV: Tell us a bit about yourself!
Troy Gardner: I’m a New England writer transplanted to Florida. I’m a cat guy and I have a wickedly dark sense of humor.

DV: What inspired you to write “My Student’s Obsession” for I Didn’t Break the Lamp?
TG: I found some old Lord of the Flies fanart I’d sketched and wondered if there was any sort of fandom presence online. Fast forward to hours later and I’m deep in a rabbit hole of LOTF fan fic/art/academic papers. Additionally, I wanted to explore the relationship between audience and art in a way I haven’t before, so that felt like a fun marriage.

DV: You do a fantastic job in your story of referencing a couple of novels without naming them. And yet it was entirely clear what novels they were. How do you pick out the details that hint at these other works without having to name them?
TG: Thank you, that required some extra attention! I played around with exactly how to reference the books for quite a while before landing on the assumption that the reader hasn’t read them, and so I gave whatever details were vital to this story. You can read “My Student’s Obsession” under the impression that they are fictional books and still get everything. But there’s a little extra meaning if you’re familiar with them.

DV: What rituals or routines do you have around your writing process?
TG: I hate writing in silence so I usually have multi-camera sitcoms or older music, like REM, playing in the background. Something I’m familiar with that doesn’t require too much attention.

DV: If you had an imaginary friend growing up, what was their name, and what were they like?
TG: I never had an imaginary friend, but I sure tried it out once. I decided there was some dude named Ferdinand who lived in my bedroom wall (just the one) and I attempted talking to him, but it turned out that chatting with Ferdinand was like talking to a wall … so I gave up.

DV: What’s on the horizon for you?
TG: I like to stay productive and work in various mediums, so I’ve recently finished a humorous YA novel about amateur filmmakers competing against each other, I’ve got a short story that’s going to be performed on Monsters Out of the Closet, which is a fantastic LGBT+ horror fiction podcast, and I’m nearly done making a slasher movie themed card game. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to chat about writing!

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Fiction: Pygmalion

An essay by Jon, as provided by Faith Consiglio
Art by Luke Spooner

It’s been seven months since I gave consent. I still haven’t seen any of the money they promised. Soon, I’m thinking, it can’t go on forever, right?

I sit across from the lipstick-clad woman, who’s eyeing me with her legs crossed. I still don’t know what to call her. Therapist? Counselor? Consultant? Her role is to get my feedback, but sometimes her questions feel invasive, so personal I want to leave. But I need the money.

I typically talk as long as I want, getting her undivided attention. But not today. Today, something’s wrong. She shifts in her seat as if she has to pee. Something’s beeping, like a pager.

She actually stops our meeting.

“Excuse me; I’m obligated to check this.”

I halt, somewhat embarrassed. I’ve been going on about Sara, the only woman I ever loved. I still beam with pride thinking about her. I can’t believe she agreed to move in with me a month ago. It feels like a dream, one I’m afraid I’ll awake from when she realizes I don’t deserve her.

Because I don’t. I’m a medicine intern with mediocre feedback like, completed required tasks. Never anything better. My heart was never in it though… until I met her. Sara’s an internal medicine attending. Within her first month at the hospital, she had everyone’s attention. She knew the correct diagnoses, every time, before anyone else. She had unparalleled efficiency, seeing more patients than the entire team. But it wasn’t just her intellect that attracted, it was something else; something made her magnetic. Everyone wanted to be around her. She was inspiring, with an infectious optimism that made even me like medicine.

I hadn’t chased anything in a long time, but I went for her, expecting I’d be rejected. Only I wasn’t, and ever since we started dating, I’ve been a better version of myself.

I’ve been rambling. So when the counselor stops me, I blush. People must hate me. I found the one, and she’s undeniably special.

I look at the woman’s expression. It looks like she’s seen a ghost. She mumbles a few affirmations, then an, “I see.” She hangs up. Something’s wrong.

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Strange Science: Butterflies That Thrive at Military Installations

Karner blue butterflyScientists have found that once-endangered butterfly species are thriving at military installations, and the explanation behind it is truly unexpected.

Historically, these butterflies were present in areas where roaming animals and intentional fires kept the plant life managed in such a way that the butterflies could thrive. As humans took over these areas, preventing both the roaming animals and intentional fires, the butterfly populations suffered, almost to the point of extinction.

On military bases, where simulated warfare changes the ecology of the area, these butterflies have begun to thrive again, in part because of the intentional fires that occur due to the wargames. Though the fire destroys a number of larva, it also causes the female butterflies to produce more larva, therefore allowing the species to rebound from its low numbers.

You can read much more about this process and the scientists studying it here.

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I Didn’t Break the Lamp: Interview with Christine Lucas

Today, we’re talking with author Christine Lucas, who is an alum of two of our previous anthologies, Battling in All Her Finery and Utter Fabrication!

DV: Tell us a bit about yourself!

Christine Lucas: I’m Greek, and English is my second language. Writing was never in my plans, growing up, despite the fact that my high school language teacher insisted that one day I’d write. Now I wish I’d listened sooner. So many stories in my head that want to get out, so little time to write now, but I’m trying to type faster. And I have a horde of cats with plenty of stories to tell too, so I’d better start writing.

DV: What inspired you to write “Games of Angry Children” for I Didn’t Break the Lamp?

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Review of Distaff

Distaff (2019) is an anthology of nine science-fiction stories by women authors who are members of the sffchronicles community forum. The result is an eclectic collection ranging across the spectrum of science fiction.

Two of the stories stood out particularly for me. “The Broken Man” by Jane O’Reilley is told in simple language, but this simplicity made this story a charming one. “The Ice Man” by Rosie Oliver is a high-tech police procedural story, with a bit of noir flavor, and a surprising (but still logical) conclusion. It’s also one of several winter-themed stories in the anthology, which was one of the several threads that helped hold them all together.

If you’re a fan of sci-fi stories and women authors, check out Distaff for a lovely anthology of both. The book releases tomorrow (August 15) at WorldCon in Dublin, but is also available to purchase online.

An author included in this anthology provided us a copy of the anthology for review consideration.

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I Didn’t Break the Lamp: Interview with Sam Fleming

Today, we’re chatting with author Sam Fleming, who has a story in I Didn’t Break the Lamp!

DV: Tell us a bit about yourself!

Sam Fleming: I was born and raised in Scotland, spent almost two decades in various parts of England, and now live in a house built 130 years ago, along with my partner, my dog–an obstinate husky known as Floof–and Fingal, Shackleton, Max, Peregrine, Blackbird, Thokk, and Emily, who are all bicycles. I’m a multivariate egregore stacked up inside a human meat trenchcoat trying their best to pass well enough to avoid making people run screaming, and a highly trained scientist with a mutant brain who is employed to crack tough problems and negotiate complex solutions in the name of saving the world. I was on the British Junior Olympic archery squad until I damaged this entropic bag of bones and juices falling off a mountain. The armed services refused me admission when I was eleven years old and almost every year of asking thereafter. For a few years in the late nineties, I spent a lot of my time scaring fake Satanists away from an Oxfordshire stone circle. I collect fountain pen ink and hate having my hair cut. Some or all of the above may resemble the truth.

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

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Fiction: The Improbable Case of the Were-Hydra

By Temperance D. Lamplighter, Laboratory Assistant, as related by Deborah L. Davitt
Art by Leigh Legler

The job posting that led me to apply for a position with Dr. Hieronymus H. Featherstone should have been warning enough. It alluded to long hours, unpaid overtime, and noted that a “flexible moral compass is a must.” However, the placement agency through which I was hired had excellent medical and dental benefits, not things to be sneered at, even if all treatment was required to be performed up at Gothic U’s medical center. So what if their procedures were highly experimental? I needed a paycheck and a root canal, more or less in that order.
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