Pravic

A New Grammar for Science Fiction

Science Fiction is no longer a novelty.

We do not want to read Science Fiction because it is set in the future. Science Fiction must offer some deeper, truer view of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.

 

Rudy Rucker, guys!

Lastly from the fiction department, a selection from the indomitable Rudy Rucker's creepy-as-fuck story "My Office Mate." This one can't be missed.

There's a doozy of a tale by our gregarious editor David Gill in issue two, but it's so damn short an excerpt isn't really an option. Needless to say, its brevity is directly proportional to its effectiveness.

In a bit, we'll treat you to a few choice lines of prose from the non-fiction pieces in issue 2. For now, enjoy, pine for more, and order your copy!
***



Although my office mate is a very brilliant man, he’s a thumb-fingered klutz. For firmly held reasons of principle, he wanted to tweak the settings of his lovely new machine to make it use a reverse Polish notation command-line interface—this had to do with the massive digital archiving project that he was forever working on. The new machine demurred at adopting reverse Polish. Harry downloaded some freeware patches, intending to teach his device a lesson. You can guess how that worked out.

The techs took Harry’s dead sandwich back to their lair, wiped its memory and reinstalled the operating system. Once again its peppy screen shone atop his desk. But now Harry sulked, not wanting to use it.

“This is about my soul,” he told me. “I’ve spent, what, thirty years creating a software replica of myself. Everything I’ve written: my email, my photos, and a lot of my conversations—and, yes, I’m taping this, Fletcher. A rich compost of Harry data. It’s ready to germinate, ready to come to life. But these brittle machines thwart my immortality at every turn.”

“You’d just be modeling yourself as a super chatbot, Harry. In the real world, we all die.” I paused, thinking about Harry’s attractive woman friend of many years. “It’s a shame you never married Velma. You two could have had kids. Biology is the easy path to self-replication.”

“You’re not married either,” said Harry glaring at me. “And Velma says what you said too.” As if reaching a momentous decision, he snatched the shapely sandwich computer off his desk and put it on mine. “Very well then! I’ll make my desk into a stink farm!”
Sure enough, when I came into the office on Monday, I found Harry’s desk encumbered with a small biological laboratory. Harry and his woman friend Velma were leaning over it, fitting a data cable into a socket in the side of a Petri dish that sat beneath a bell jar.

“Hi Fletch,” said Velma brightly. She was a terminally cheerful genomics professor with curly hair. “Harry wants me to help him reproduce as a slime mold.”

“How romantic,” I said. “Do you think it can work?”

“Biocomputation has blossomed this year,” said Velma. “The Durban-Krush mitochondrial protocols have solved our input/output problems.”

“A cell’s as much of a universal computer as any of our department’s junk-boxes,” put in Harry. “And just look at this! My entire database is flowing into these slime mold cells. They like reverse Polish. I’m overwriting their junk DNA.”

“We prefer to speak of sequences that code for obsolete or unactivated functional activity,” said Velma, making a playful professor face.

“Like Harry’s sense of empathy?” I suggested.

Velma laughed. “I’m waiting for him to code me into the slime mold with him.”

More Teasers...

And now, an excerpt from the chilling (and touching) "Blue Flyers" by SF veteran and cult legend Bob Onopa.

***

At her four o'clock appointment, her transplant specialist, a matronly female surgeon, completed her screening physical in under a half hour.  In her cool office she shifted a flatscreen around to show Valerie a high definition sonogram of the fetus in her womb.  "Looks wonderful," Dr. Levich said.  "We'll have a perfect match."

            Val squinted.  "So, um, the umbilical cord gets connected to the marsupial, um, pouch?"  Now she wished she knew more.

            "It's a bit more complicated.  The macropodid pouch provides different kinds of teats for joeys at different stages of development.  We use the one appropriate for a first phase joey, who's continuously attached for several months.  Our flyers have been genetically designed to retain that teat indefinitely.  The point is to make the pouch a suitable environment for poikilothermic young."

            "Poikilo...?"

            "Poikilothermic.  A human fetus, like the first phase joey, is unable to control its body heat, so it needs a host who'll do so with her nutrient supply.  Secondary to the teat, we attach the umbilical cord of your fetus to a tiny umbilicus the marsupial produces when her joey's embryonic.  So we tap into the blood supply as well as the nutrient loop before we suture the pouch.  Given bodyweight and chemistry, and one antibodies injection, we can duplicate the conditions of your womb perfectly. Though we want just the right blue flyer, of course."  Dr. Levich looked at her watch.  "Would you like to see her?  The Carrier we've selected for you?"

            Valerie agreed and finished dressing.  During the walk from the hospital building to the nurseries, she told Dr. Levich how Kenneth had objected to the procedure, how he'd filed a restraining order to keep her from leaving New York, how he'd threatened her.  "He's a younger attorney in my firm.  But we're not married, of course, so...."

            "Only one in six children is born to married couples these days," Dr. Levich told her sympathetically.  "And only one in four is delivered vaginally.  What does he want, an abnormal child?"

Sample Our Wares, Good Readers


As you are hopefully aware by now, issue #2 is available for purchase (button in previous post). We're still working on the digital business, but rest assured it will be here soon. But Pravic is in its very nature a print rag - that's how it's built and planned and, we think, best appreciated. So while we are happy to be offering digital copies (only a buck!), we still think you should pick up a print edition (only 3 bucks!).

If you still need convincing, we'll be posting a few excerpts from the stories and pieces from issue 2. Here's the first one, a small selection from Cal Godot's fantastic story "The Robot Felt." As always, such things are best read in context, but we hope a little taste will whet your appetite.


***

The robot felt was well-received by Gerrold's wife and daughter. The little girl especially liked the way she could draw lines by tracing her fingers through the pilings of the cobalt blue velvet skin. They were all surprised to find the robot was programmed to giggle when the child did this, as if the robot were being tickled. The little girl asked, “Daddy, if I tickle him too much will he pee?” Gerrold told her he didn't think so, but worried how dedicated to realism the robot engineers might be. The robot felt was not stain-resistant, so Gerrold opted not to experiment with this possible feature.

Instead he followed the robot as it carried his daughter to bed. Gerrold read the girl a story while the robot stood watch in the hallwaybetween the bedrooms. When she had fallen asleep, Gerrold went to the robot and told it to stand guard. Then Gerrold went to his own bedroom, where his wife was already getting ready
for bed. “I'll feel much safer with a robot around,” she offered.
The robot felt was also constructed to withstand damage from most conventional objects. If someone did attack the robot with a gun or knife, the skin could absorb the kinetic energy of the blow and dampen the attack to minimal force. This design feature also aided the robot in such activities as playing horse and giving piggy-back rides. Gerrold supposed this feature of the robot felt might also help other models of robots in the performance of their various duties.

“The robot felt is nice,” his wife told him as he got into bed. “I like the way it warms to the touch.” She snuggled up to him. “Thank you for surprising me,” she said.

“The robot felt should hold up to most of the usual things,” he told her. “It's water-repellant, so it should be okay walking her to school.” She sat up and looked at him, concerned. “Is it stain resistant?” He sighed. "No.” She lay back down and placed her head on his chest. Worry fueled the silence.

The robot felt seemed to glow in the moonlight, a soft sheen of photons bouncing sheer off the velvet surface. Gerrold woke at least six times that first night to see if it had moved. It was weeks before he slept through the night without waking.

Promises, Promises

We know. We're super late. We hope you forgive us. The last few details needed to see Issue 2 off on its course into your hearts and homes have been agonizingly slow for weird and, in all likelihood, non-repeatable reasons. But it really does exist, and it has great stuff in it. 

Like I said before (but moreso now), the good news is that Issue 3 is well underway. In fact, I am pleased to announce some of our stellar contributors! Issue 3 will feature fiction by:

Mike Buckley's work has appeared in The Best American Non-Required Reading 2003, numerous times in the Alaska Quarterly Review, and in The Southern California Review, among many others. He has been twice nominated for The Pushcart Prize in Fiction and his debut collection of short stories,Miniature Men (2010) was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award for New Fiction.

John Biggs is a Southwestern U.S. regional writer with about twenty published short stories. He won  grand prize in annual Writers Digest competition in 2011, and in 2012 he won the Creme de la Creme Award at the Oklahoma Writers Federation Inc. conference, People's Choice Award from the Storyteller magazine and was a finalist for the St. Lawrence Book Award. His first novel, OWL Dreams is under contract with Pen-L Publishing and will be coming out later this year.

Carl Fuerst is an outstanding fiction-writer and editor whose projects include the outstanding weird-fiction publication The Again. More details on Carl later...

Lastly for now, a great piece of flash fiction by Ian Kappos, whose fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Specious SpeciesNeonCrossed Out Magazine, and Grim Corps Magazine. More on him later, too.

Plus: ParaRiffs - Futurama!

We hope we've piqued your interest. Stay tuned!

New Stories from Pravic's Editors

In case you've been out of the loop, editor David Gill had also had a few stories published since issue 1 came out, including Upon A Sea of Searching at Farther Stars Than These and Touching at 365 Tomorrows.

Additionally, both David and myself had stories featured in issue 1 of the brand new and highly exciting British publication Theurgy Magazine. Buy it in print, read it for free on issu, or get it for Kindle.

Issue 2 almost done!

We know, we know, you're wondering where we are. Both editors have had hands full with many projects, including the daunting (and rewarding) task that is slush reading and longer-term work on this magazine. But rest assured, issue two is nearly complete, featuring fantastic tales and other exciting features. The content is all in, and after a thorough proofing and some crafty design work by our own Meri Brin, we expect to have it wrapped by early February.

We have some excellent stories lined up for issue three and maybe even beyond. The quality of the submissions we've gotten has been very high, which is, I assure you, a real treat. Even the stories we've had to reject have been good, by and large. So keep them coming, and keep telling your friends -at least one story you'll see in issue 2 came to us because of positive word on the street. Those of you doing the preaching, thanks a bundle!

Also expect to see some exclusive web content in the next few weeks.
More as it comes...

Pravic now listed on Duotrope

We've hit the big time, and now have an official (fledgling) listing at the wonderful Duotrope. Writers, if you don't know about or use Duotrope, you're missing out - so get educated, and then get involved! Duotrope helps you track your submissions, and it keeps other writers informed - and us publishers honest - by making that data available. It's also a free service, which means it's a good place to spend some of your extra dollars to support.

Now send us your stories!

Pravic Gift Subscriptions Discounted Today!

Give the gift that... is really cool: a subscription to the brand-new, cutting-edge SF mag Pravic! Today, in honor of the very futuristic sounding Cyber Monday, we're offering a $30 gift subscription (that means it had to be purchased as a gift for someone else) - that's $6 off the cover price. We'll even send the recipient a nice letter announcing the subscription.

Subscriptions include 12 issues, including issue 1, published quarterly. That means your gift subscription will keep some lucky person in high-quality SF for three years!

Order before December 15 and we'll guarantee delivery of issues one and two along with a valuable letter explaining the gift. Don't wait, act now!

 

PraviCat Contest Winner!

Alas, though many a fine and well-groomed feline was displayed in proximity to a copy of our little tract, a single feline and accompanying human was selected at random to win a subscription to Pravic. Contgrats to our winning cat and human, Inanna and her (?) human Ted Hand! We'll be launching another contest soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

Issue #2 Update

We've been hard at work on issue #2 of Pravic, and we're pretty excited about it. We have stories by some truly remarkable writers, including Rudy Rucker, Robert Onopa and Cal Godot, as well as another great tale by editor David Gill.

We'll also be featuring a non-fiction piece by Ben Nadler exploring the weird world of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. Prepare yourself by reading some of his wonderful fables, like The Turkey Prince, which Ben writes about in his piece.

Capped off with a ParaRiffs about the legendary Melvins, issue #2 pushes even more envelopes and buttons than issue #1.

Launching December '12. Stay tuned for more!


Yet Another PraviCat!

Reader Walter F. Croft writes:

"Our beloved orange tabby Mr. Pinky passed on to other realms last summer, but recently we've been feeding an elusive, feral visitor who we call Galeax Inferno. Here he is enjoying a free meal and issue one of Pravic."

Thanks, Walter. 

Friday is the last day to send us pics of your cat or a cat you know with issue #1 of Pravic. If you want a chance to win a subscription, send us your cats!


More Cats!

Is it really so surprising that Pravic readers are cat people?

Dave's cat Nimbu finds it a nice fit.

"If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat." - Mark Twain


Douglass Truth stretches it a bit.

"If you would know a man, observe how he treats a cat." - Robert A. Heinlein


Perry Kinman's companion Qoo, an avid SF fan.


"When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction." - Mark Twain

De(con)structing

In the grungiest act of deconstruction ever, Buzzo and company recruited former teen heartthrob Leif Garrett to do sing vocals on their cover of the song that destroyed Kurt Cobain, "Smells Like Teen Spirit." It's pretty faithful adaptation that is absolutely wrought with irony. It's a Gordian Knot of sarcasm. Discuss.


Rudy Rucker in Issue 2!

In some damn exciting news, Pravic issue 2 will feature a story by SF legend Rudy Rucker!

We both love Rudy's work, and are very excited to have his involvement.

But just because big names like Rudy are appearing in our pages doesn't mean you shouldn't submit your stories even if nobody knows your name. Hell, both editors have just begun to crack the publishing game, so we're sympathetic to slush-dwellers. 

Here's Rudy's talk from the recent PKD fest, "Haunted by Philip K. Dick."



A New Home

Welcome to the re-launch of Pravic online. We've moved from our old page on Wordpress, and even bought our domain name like real live grown-ups. All the posts from the old page are re-posted as archives here, sans comments, for your ease of use.

And while we have you, check out this story and video from Verge on Philip K. Dick fandom, featuring Pravic editor David Gill and various friends from the wider PKD community. In case you didn't know, David runs the Total Dick-Head blog, the world-renowned resource for all things Phildickian.

In many ways, Pravic grew out of our love for Dick, as well as other SF, literature, and ideas. You can see more of David's work (as well as work by me) on the Editors page, where we've made a handy list of stories, blogs, and other sundry resources for your nerdy pleasure.

Enjoy, and welcome to the (even) new(er) Pravic!

More human than human: how Philip K. Dick can change your life




Commandments



Pravic Commandments For New Science Fiction


“Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end.” – Henry David Thoreau
Science Fiction is no longer a novelty.
We do not want to read Science Fiction because it is set in the future. Science Fiction must offer some deeper, truer view of ourselves and our place in the cosmos.
Science Fiction is not about predicting the future.
Science Fiction should explore our internal terrain. Like scientists growing bacteria in a laboratory, we should see, in the results of our experiments, traces of the spores from which they arise. What we see in extrapolated technology and future culture are latent tendencies in the human condition which lie hidden to us now, but which we can examine through the medium of our genre.
Space is not the “final frontier.”
We have yet to pierce our own inky blackness, to fully assess the mysteries of our existence, or even to define the curious connection between the wonders of our mind and the miracle of our being.
We believe that discovery can happen anywhere: in the fog, in the spaces between things, in a solitary moment.
This is not the future.
William Gibson’s notion that the future has arrived but is unequally distributed is oxymoronic. It’s not that we’re missing the intended cleverness of this statement; we just don’t think it’s all that clever. The future will never arrive, or it ceases to be the future; as such, ‘the present’ becomes a kind of dividing line, which renders all fiction set on the far side a lens for magnifying what is within us.
The future, like the unconscious mind, is unknowable directly. We can only get at it obliquely. Science Fiction is a kind of therapy we can use to plumb our depths.
Science Fiction is uniquely suited to diagnosing our societal ills.
We recognize the power of this utility, and pledge to use it responsibly and to its full potential. While we’re wary of becoming what Vonnegut called “Royal Astronomers” – cynical doomsayers with axes to grind – we’re just as fearful of the opposite. We feel there’s more utility in self-examination than in self-congratulation.
Science Fiction literalizes the figurative.
A lover’s cold and unapproachable heart becomes, in Science Fiction, an artificial heart, a thing of glass and wire and circuitry.
There is no ‘idea science fiction’ anymore. The future is impersonal, but our struggle with it is deeply personal.
Technology in science fiction should be deployed in order to bring greater depth and visibility to the characters.
Science Fiction need not limit itself to writing about plausible future scenarios; any scenario that is either plausible or karmically appropriate shall be considered SF, as the technical aspect of the craft involves extrapolation. We want to tell you more than what we think the future will be like: let’s talk about the future we have earned through our mindless exploitation of the present.
Science Fiction is Experiential and Ontological
Ultimately all knowledge of the Universe is filtered through our perception – therefore the ultimate science fiction story really is a human story, about the act of discovery, rather than the discovery
itself.
Science Fiction should be concerned with the process of trying to understand the Universe (and our place in it), rather than with the Universe itself. We have no perception without conception.
Consensual reality is fading quickly, replaced by windowless monads, individual realities. In consensual reality’s place is emerging a multi-verse – a set of realities, each grounded in an individual consciousness, which offer up a notion of reality uniquely formed to/by the psychology of the individual.These realities, it turns out, are as mutually exclusive as the ‘alternate dimensions’ of traditional SF.
We are not optimistic about humanity’s future.
We’re not going to call the game early, but we do know this: progress-mongering and optimistic feel-goodery doesn’t suit this medium. We’ve been beating the drums of development for too long. What we need now is refinement, awareness, and the capacity for harsh self-evaluation.