Congratulations (Freewrite)

The crowd milled about. Every footfall, every “congratulations” broken between the lips of loved ones, echoed in the gymnasium.
Rosie weaved through her congratulated classmates, searching for her parents. Amanda had found her mother at the edge of the walkway as the row of students walked out. Now everyone had returned to the gym, a clip rain starting outside. Everyone smiled and cameras flashed, but many wondered if this rain would be the next to flood their city. Then she saw them.
“Congratulations, honey!” Mom and Dad came rushing toward her.

Mom was first to wrap her daughter in a hug. “Oh, we are so proud of you,” she said.

“Grandmama, Grandpapa is too, and all our family, as far back as Fransisco Guidolio.”
“Thank’s, mom,” said Rosie, with a little smile.

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Comic Review: Shadow Roads #7

Shadow Roads #7

Oni Press

Writers: Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt

Artist: A.C. Zamudio

Arc two continues with its multi-thread narrative. In this way, it distances itself even farther from the first arc of late 2018, at the same time assuring readers they are in good hands. The story has all the elements and characters readers enjoyed from Volume 1, but it’s Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt have taken on a more complex structure.

Story:

With the support of the enlisted gunslinger, Izzy, and the ghost-seeing cowboy “Ghost Eyes,” Marshal Anton Karloff seeks out a sinister organization: The Cabal. At the same time,  Weathersby, now back in England, takes on a secret mission and leaves for Bombay. In the Utah Territory of America, Henry meditates with the powerfully magical knife. Inside the spirit world, in the land of the dead, he is called by someone. Bombay is the direction all our heroes make for. Something dark awaits them all.

Read my whole review on Sequentialplanet.com

Small Thoughts: The Doing and Undoing of Jacob E. Mwangi by E.Lily Yu, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, May/June 2019

E. Lily Yu is a special type of author. She commonly transcends genres, breaks contemporary fictional forms, and brings a fairytale-eskness to her fiction that creates a sense of wonderment. The Doing and Undoing of Jacob E. Mwangi is not different.

While this newest story by Yu is quite firmly based in a technologically advanced future, it addresses a common and relevant issue of today (which all serious science fiction should do): What would people do if they were simply given enough to live?

I read this story on the heels of reading an interview with U.S. presidential hopeful, Andrew Yang. Yang has been making waves (maybe more like ripples) in the crowded Democratic field with his main issue platform: the “Freedom Dividend.” It sounds farcical to my ears, but the Freedom Dividend is a UBI, universal basic income. $1000 per month for every American is Yang’s platform. Why? Because of the GDP (gross domestic product) is not, Yang thinks, a fair reflection of a countries prosperity due to the fact that more and more products are made not by workers, but by machines.

ASF_MayJune2019_400x570Back to Yu’s story. In The Doing and Undoing of Jacob E. Mwangi there are two types of people: Doers and Don’ts. Doers do something Don’ts. . . don’t. But it’s more complicated than that. Doers are educated at a college level. They are skilled at. . . something. They produce something (in the case of this story, virtual reality design, art, and games). Don’ts on the other hand only play games. They apply themselves to things that are ALREADY created, like playing video games, watching movies, reading, etc. Jacob E. Mwangi is a Don’t. He gets his UBI from the Nairobi government and he spends it on rent, food, and playing VR games with his guild.

Everyone says Jacob has amazing potential. He’s intelligent, he could go to college–his sister even offers to send him someplace like China for his education. But being a Don’t is a source of pride for Jacob, and he’s not the only one. His game friends feel the same way. Doers are desperate, lame, and worse, self-important. What could they create that other people should be so excited about?

But when Jacob discovers a new indie game made by three women, he becomes inspired. He sees what they do well in terms of UX, but also what he might be able to improve on in the game. He thinks he could be an artist–but for that, he needs to go to school, get a portfolio together. Learn something.

The whole point of this story, I think, isn’t about VR or video games. It’s about UBI. It’s about how some people will, for a time, want nothing more than to play games, sit around, do nothing except enjoying themselves. But given time, people will begin to think, have ideas, want to act, create, produce. What will they produce? Who knows. But it’s going to be something that wasn’t produced beforehand because beforehand they didn’t have the time for such a passion project.

While Yu’s story paints a seemingly futuristic picture, it is a much more hopeful one than common science fiction. Similarly, Yang’s vision of a “Freedom Dividend” is also a hopeful concept that would let people devote more time and energy to their big ideas. While Yang is unlikely to win any nominations, he is polling at a high enough rate to conceivably be included in the first round of debates.

With hopeful stories like The Doing and Undoing of Jacob E. Mwangi, it is likely the idea of a UBI will become more commonplace in the years to come.

(Not sold on the Freedom Dividend? Find out how Yang expects to pay for this, by clicking here.