Posts Tagged "Eugie Foster"

Clavis Aurea #6: Eugie Foster, Thoraiya Dyer, Ruthanna Emrys

by on May 22, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

One of the great attractions of traditionally escapist genre fiction is the scope of the story. These are stories about big movements of history: plots to overthrow kings, bring down gods, reign in forces of nature or supplant the basic elements of the universe. They are stories of consequence – they are stories about power. These are also stories about destiny, because all too often, the hero finds themselves coming into power because they were chosen by fate to do so. This makes sense in the context of a literary tradition that comes from the same culture that brought us Manifest Destiny – the idea that American settlers were destined to control North America. Western society still carries deep within it the notion that power collects where it is most deserved, because of the special or inherent virtues of those in power. The Chosen One gets to be King because he was meant to be King. Because he was always the King, and will always be the King. For those who have never felt the presence of this kind of fate, personally or culturally, power is a very different beast altogether. Power is what other people have, and it’s what they use to control you. Heroism from below is not about rising to take the reigns of hegemonic power, but finding the cracks in the whole oppressive edifice, and fighting to blow open a hole big enough to survive in. Traction, the protagonist of Eugie Foster’s “Tried as an Adult” (Strange Bedfellows ed. Hayden Trenholm) is a 13-year-old runner – an errand-boy employed by Honcho, a gang leader who leaves much of his day-to-day operations to minors because they are protected from a horrifying, dystopian justice system until they reach the age of 18. Poor, orphaned and, now, arrested, Traction is in no position to seize the reigns of power, but he finds a way to be a hero nonetheless. Foster’s story is not about evading the law, but what you do when you’re in the clutches of an abjectly abusive system. A new law lowering the age of competence has just been tabled, and Traction will be tried as an adult if they catch him again. Which they do, of course. Foster’s story is not about evading the law, but what you do when you’re in the clutches of an abjectly abusive system. Traction is alone at 13, left effectively orphaned by a justice system which not only incarcerates, but operates on and disables convicted felons. “Getting out” of a life of crime isn’t an option, and Foster amply demonstrates that Traction is better taken care of by the gang than he would be by the state. When Traction is thrust into the maw of the justice machine, all he has left to him is a chance to stick it to his captors by recording his experiences with a neural implant and downloading them out of the prison via an uplink with a young runner he has been training. Their objective is a grassroots push back. Though Traction is ultimately abandoned to his fate by the adults in his life, he wants badly to stick with this plan right up to the bitter end, as does his six-year-old sidekick, who defies his boss in order to continue helping Traction because it’s the right thing to do. The use of children as agents of change problematizes the story to an extent. Traction needs to be savvy enough to feel responsible for overturning an unjust authority, and yet the morality of the story hinges on the understanding that minors deserve draconian punishment even less than adults do because they cannot be held accountable for their actions. Both Traction and his trainee clearly understand what they are doing, undermining the argument that they are not responsible for their actions. It is this responsibility which makes them heroes. Why, then, must they be children? Most likely to play on the emotions of the civilians who will be shown the feed of Traction’s torture – and yet their self-awareness of this manipulation detracts...

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Trixie and the Pandas of Dread

by on Jan 1, 2013 in Short Fiction | 17 comments

by Eugie Foster Trixie got out of her cherry-red godmobile and waved away the flitting cherubim waiting to bear her to her sedan chair. She wasn’t in the mood for a reverent chorus of hosannas, and the sedan chair desperately needed re-springing. She felt every jostle and jounce from those damned pandas. A day didn’t pass that she didn’t regret adopting giant pandas as her sacred vahanas. Sure, it seemed like a good idea at the time. They were so cute with their roly-poly bellies and black-masked faces, but they were wholly unsuited to be beasts of conveyance. The excessive undulation of their waddling gaits was enough to make Captain Ahab seasick, and their exclusive diet of bamboo made them perpetually flatulent. The novelty of being hauled along by farting ursines in a stomach-roiling sedan chair had gotten very old very fast. But there wasn’t a lot she could do about it now. It was all about the brand. Pandas were part of her theology. If she adopted new vahanas, she’d likely end up with a splitter faction, possibly even a reformation. Such a pain in the ass. So she’d started walking more—well, floating really, since gods weren’t supposed to tread the earth. Appearances and all. Drifting a hairsbreadth above the pavement, Trixie pulled out her holy tablet and launched the Karmic Retribution app. The first thumbnail belonged to a Mr. Tom Ehler, the owner of the walkway and the two-story colonial house it led to. She unpinched two fingers across the screen to zoom up Mr. Ehler’s details. Yesterday, Mr. Ehler, under the handle GodnessWins, had posted on a public forum a series of inflammatory comments in response to a YouTube video depicting a street fight. His sins were a nearly perfect fit for the specifications she’d told the app to flag, right down to the secondary parameters (Mr. Ehler’s toxic vitriol was also egregiously ungrammatical). But even reading, “yo niggers, whiteman gave u freedom whiteman take it away” and “fucking street monkey deserved to get hang from a tree like the good old days,” only made Trixie feel tired. Where was the seething indignation? The fiery wrath and burning rage? She knocked on the hardwood door, admiring the architecture as she waited. It was a pretty swank piece of real estate, red brick with whitewashed wooden trim. Definitely upscale. The door opened at her fourth knock. The man glaring at her matched his profile headshot—receding hairline, thickening gut, age spots beginning to speckle his face—but she didn’t need the app to confirm his identity. Her omniscience had kicked in. “What you want, missy? Knocking on decent people’s door this time of night?” Trixie didn’t bother with any theatrical pyrotechnics or a “repent now” spiel. She just punched her fist into Tom Ehler’s chest and yanked out a handful of viscera. He collapsed, spraying blood and choking on his own bile. With disinterest, she watched him flail and shriek before calling down a white-hot levin bolt to finish him off. She sighed. Yeah, it was still satisfying, ridding the world of another dickhead, but something was missing. Trixie had been a god for so long she barely remembered the time when she’d been mortal, just an earnest supplicant imploring the deities to smite sinners in the name of justice and an offended sense of Why hasn’t this asshole been horribly maimed or engulfed in hellfire yet? She did remember her euphoric rapture when the Karma Committee appeared at her door with an oversized certificate of godhood and a bouquet of burning bushes. But she hadn’t felt anything but a plodding sense of duty for a long time. A middle-aged woman and a high-school-aged youth spilled out of the house—Mr. Ehler’s wife (now widow) and son. The woman began to sob and scream, but the boy just regarded the messy corpse of his father for a long moment before turning his scrutiny upon Trixie. “You the god rained annihilation on my dad?” he demanded. Trixie donned her divine aura with reluctance. “I am,” she boomed in her best holy...

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An Interview with Eugie Foster

by on Jan 1, 2013 in Interviews, Nonfiction | 0 comments

By day, a hard-working legislative editor, and by night a fiction maven, Eugie Foster is the Nebula award-winning author of “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast.” Her fiction has appeared in a wide range of magazines, from here with us at Apex Magazine to Realms of Fantasy, Drabblecast, Cicada, Intergalactic Medicine Show, Interzone, and many more. This issue of Apex Magazine features her fabulous tale of vengeance, karma, and a little bamboo, “Trixie and the Pandas of Dread.” To learn more about Ms. Foster and her upcoming projects, visit her website at About “Trixie and the Pandas of Dread”: APEX MAGAZINE: “Trixie and the Pandas of Dread” is such a fun, dark tale. I particularly loved the intermingling of technology and religious dogma. I’ll get the perfunctory question out of the way first: What initially sparked the idea for this tale? EUGIE FOSTER: First of all, thank you so much. There’s a great uncertainty factor with humor, at least for me, especially with dark humor, and I’m always particularly delighted and relieved when my forays into it are well received. As for the initial inspiration for “Trixie,” it was the end of Georgia’s 2012 legislative session, and as is the case for every end-of-session (for my day job, I’m a legislative editor for the Georgia General Assembly), I was in a heightened state of alertness/boredom, somewhat slaphappy, and very short on sleep. I happened upon an online article about real-life acts of comic book vigilantism, and one act in particular snagged my attention. A professional football player got drunk and, without warning or provocation, started punching innocent people. A random bystander—smaller, shorter, way less brawny fellow—intervened, ’cause y’know, it’s wrong to assault people. Also, one of the assaulted happened to be a woman, which really offended bystander guy’s sense of right-and-goodness. Football player, backed up by his football-playing chums, took a swing at him. Bystander guy subsequently stunned everyone by knocking football player on his ass (whereupon, I chortled gleefully). Turns out bystander guy’s a UFC lightweight champion. And, of course, someone got the whole thing on video and posted it on YouTube (more chortling from me), which I, obviously, had to see. The video was grainy and low quality, but it was still full of comeuppance goodness, which kept me merrily chortling along… until I started reading the comments. They were a litany of racist profanity. Seems the football player was white and the UFC lightweight champion was not, which outraged some members of the Bigots R Us club who were of the opinion that a drunk white guy punching women is a-okay, but a non-white guy who stands up to said white guy is an unbearable affront to their manhood. And also uppity. So yeah, I needed an outlet for vindictive catharsis. Voila, “Trixie.” Also, I think I might be on a general vengeance-theme kick, writing-wise. AM: If you were tapped by the Karma Committee, what kind of goddess would you be, and what would you choose for your own vahana? EF: I’d like to say that I’d be a munificent goddess of the arts, spreading joy and goodwill, but If I’m being honest, I have to admit I’d be more like Trixie. Most days, my cynical and stabbity impulses overwhelm my “glass is shiny and half-full, yay!” ones. As for my vahana, I’d want blue bunnies with wings, bright button eyes, and venomous fangs. They’d eat red velvet cake and cinnamon candy. AM: Writing humorous stories can be a real challenge for some authors, often degrading into bad puns and painful attempts to be witty, but this is clearly not the case for you. When you approach writing a story like “Trixie” does the humor come out naturally from the first moment of inception, or is it something you have to pay specific attention to as you go along? EF: Again, thank you! I love funny. It’s one of my favorite things to read (or watch). But compared to my body of non-funny work, I don’t write that much of it....

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Biba Jibun

by on Apr 18, 2011 in Short Fiction | 0 comments

by Eugie Foster Every night as I sleep on my futon, I dream that I’m a rabbit, running on a river of moonlight. My fur is white, my legs strong and swift, and I’m going to see Mama. Papa said that Mama left because she was one of the obake, the spirit folk. She tricked him into marrying her when he was a rich man and could buy her French perfume and trinkets from Cartier’s. But then Papa’s company got bought by a Western interest which wasn’t of a mind to buy Papa along with it. When next the full moon beckoned, Mama turned into a silver rabbit scented with Envy by Gucci, a platinum Bulgari watch around her throat, and flew out into the night. Actually, I don’t believe in rabbit spirits. Papa only said such things when he had too much sake, which was often. One night, he wandered away and never came back. They found him in a public bath house, drowned in a puddle of grimy water. Everyone says he got drunk and passed out, but I think he was looking for Mama, following the moon’s reflection in the water. After that, the government sent me to Tokyo to live with my uncle and his family. “Your uncle is away on business, Rinako.” Auntie Hina told me by way of greeting at the station, her voice pitched higher even than a daytime talk show hostess’s. “When he comes home, you’re not to bother him. He’s an important and busy man.” I bowed low, giving myself time to school my expression to suitable meekness. “I’ll do my best not to trouble anyone,” I said. She pursed her lips. “Your best or not, your father’s death was a great inconvenience. And quite an embarrassment, too, especially after your mother’s behavior. Don’t expect me to be lenient if you take after your parents. I cannot abide whores and layabouts.” Her tone was so sugary, dripping with onna kotoba–the polite inflections and honorifics of women’s speech–that it took several heartbeats for me to grasp her words. Then I gaped in speechless outrage. Did she have some mental sickness which caused her to spew foulness like a diseased dog? I glanced to Haruto for explanation, or a speck of humor or sympathy. I’d have had better luck appealing to a block of wood. He was immersed in private music, a pair of ear buds trailing from his head. From that, I understood that I could expect no warmth or welcome in my new home. In the next days, Auntie rushed me around the city, registering me for school and buying my uniform and textbooks. She complained all the while (in dulcet tones) of how troublesome I and these chores were. My impression of Tokyo came in flashbulb bursts of storm and bluster. The skyscrapers with illuminated advertisements blazoned on their sides brought to mind the peaks of swelling tsunami. The harried people and speeding traffic whipped to and fro like windblown debris. Uncle came home late on Saturday, an event I anticipated with equal parts anxiety and dread. To my surprise, he was as affectionate and kindly as Auntie and Haruto were not. As soon as he saw me, he embraced me. “Daughter of my brother, be welcome!” he said. “May past sorrows flow downstream, and may you find here a sanctuary of harmony, respect, and tranquility.” The tightness in my chest loosened. “I am grateful to Uncle for taking me in and pray that he will not find my presence too much of a nuisance.” I wanted to say more, but Auntie interrupted. “Husband must be very tired after working so hard. Shall I help him to bed?” “Surely sleep can wait for me to properly greet my niece,” he protested. But he let her lead him off. With Uncle home, the storm and gale of Tokyo transformed to clear skies and sunshine. He conducted a tea ceremony in my honor, and we played Go like Papa and I used to. But my heart sank lower than my knees...

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Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast

by on Aug 3, 2009 in Short Fiction | 0 comments

By Eugie Foster Each morning is a decision. Should I put on the brown mask or the blue? Should I be a tradesman or an assassin today? Whatever the queen demands, of course, I am. But so often she ignores me, and I am left to figure out for myself who to be. Dozens upon dozens of faces to choose from. 1. Marigold is for murder. The yellow mask draws me, the one made from the pelt of a mute animal with neither fangs nor claws—better for the workers to collect its skin. It can only glare at its keepers through the wires of its cage, and when the knives cut and the harvesters rip away its skin, no one is troubled by its screams. I tie the tawny ribbons under my chin. The mask is so light, almost weightless. But when I inhale, a charnel stench redolent of outhouses, opened intestines, and dried blood floods my nose. * * * My wife’s mask is so pretty, pink flower lips and magenta eyelashes that flutter like feathers when she talks. But her body is pasty and soft, the flesh of her thighs mottled with black veins and puckered fat. Still, I want her. “Darling, I’m sorry,” I say. “They didn’t have the kind you wanted. I bought what they had. There’s Citrus Nectar, Iolite Bronze, and Creamy Illusion.” “Might as well bring me pus in a jar,” she snaps. “Did you look on all the shelves?” “N-no. But the shop girl said they were out.” “The slut was probably hoarding it for herself. You know they all skim the stuff. Open the pots and scoop out a spoonful here, a dollop there. They use it themselves or stick it in tawdry urns to sell at those independent markets.” “The shop girl looked honest enough.” Her mask was carved onyx with a brush of gold at temples and chin. She was slim, her flesh taut where my wife’s sags, her skin flawless and golden. And she moved with a delicate grace, totally unlike the lumbering woman before me. “Looked honest?” My wife’s eyes roll in the sockets of her mask. “Like you could tell Queen’s Honey from shit.” “My love, I know you’re disappointed, but won’t you try one of these other ones? For me?” I pull a jar of Iolite Bronze from the sack and unscrew the lid. Although hostility bristles from her—her scent, her stance, the glare of fury from the eyeholes of her mask—I dip a finger into the solution. It’s true it doesn’t have the same consistency, and the perfume is more musk than honey, but the tingle is the same. With my Iolite Bronzed finger, I reach for the cleft between her doughy thighs. “Don’t touch me with that filth,” she snarls, backing away. If only she weren’t so stubborn. I grease all the fingers of my hand with Iolite Bronze. The musk scent has roused me faster than Queen’s Honey. “Get away!” I grab for her sex, clutching at her with my slick fingers. I am so intent that I do not see the blade, glowing in her fist. As my fingertips slip into her, she plunges the weapon into my chest, and I go down. Lying in a pool of my own blood, the scent of Iolite Bronze turning rank, I watch the blade rise and fall as she stabs me again and again. Her mask is so pretty. 2. Blue is for maidens. The next morning, I linger over my selection, touching one beautiful face, then another. There is a vacant spot where the yellow mask used to be, but I have many more. Finally, I choose one the color of sapphires. The brow is sewn from satin smooth as water. I twine the velveteen ribbons in my hair, and the tassels shush around my ears like whispered secrets. * * * “I don’t think I’ll ever marry,” I say. “Why should I?” The girl beside me giggles, slender fingers over her mouth opening. Her mask is hewn from green wood hardened...

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