What Others Saw In That Shed

PHOTO PROMPT © David Stewart

Here were some other hundred-word tales inspired by last week’s photo prompt for Friday Fictioneers:

  • Neil MacDonald envisions a confrontation over a misunderstanding
  • Trent’s World adds a science fiction twist…
  • And we get a taste of suspense from Iain Kelly
  • The shed appears as a memory in the story that’s available on Chaos Central Command
  • Michael Humphris associates some vivid sensory details to the image
  • CGraith focuses on emotion and relationships inspired by a tragic event
  • Hollywood cliches are the target for satire from draliman.
  • The punch line in the tale from msjadeli tale doesn’t disappoint.
  • Our Literary Journey crafts a clever homage to a classic rock tune. I just wish the phrase Tiffany-twisted could’ve been worked in.
  • The shed becomes the site of a disastrous experiment in the story from Miles H. Rost.

is a weekly flash fiction challenge.



The cover from my 1984 paperback edition

My wife asked for a book recommendation last fall, and I gave her my paperback copy of Frank Herbert’s classic science-fiction novel, first published in 1965. She laid it on an end table, where it remained undisturbed for a week, long enough for me to decide it was time to read the book again before seeing the new movie adaptation.

It’s a marvelously complex text — I remember feeling overwhelmed on first reading it several decades ago, in a pre-Wikipedia era where reference guides weren’t readily available. Numerous characters, so many factions, references to centuries of history, technology both futuristic and otherworldly, healthy discourses on science, religion, psychology, and interstellar politics… there’s a lot going on in this novel. It’s not an easy read, and for that reason I consider it the science fiction equivalent to James Joyce’s Ulysses. On the fantasy side, the award goes to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

How does the novel work? Why has it inspired five sequels by the original author, a dozen or so sequels and prequels by other authors, a renowned televised miniseries, and now a second film? I think the novel continues to appeal because for all its complexity, there’s a very simple story that grounds the reader. The journey of Paul Atreides is a typical bildungsroman, featuring a young man who is at times entirely likable and at other times fully terrifying. He’s an unforgettable character, and his development is the reader’s guide through all the complexity.

On this second reading I noticed a distinctive feature, one which would probably be flagged by this era’s editors and writing handbooks and fiction workshop leaders. Never change character perspective, within a story or novel chapter — I’ve seen this “rule” against what’s often called head hopping invoked numerous times. But in “Dune,” Herbert routinely goes into the heads of several characters within a chapter, sometimes even in a single paragraph. It happens so often that I now refer to the author as Hopalong Herbert. The lesson here, I believe, is that good writing isn’t about following rules.

My wife did eventually start reading the novel and had a similar reaction to mine on my initial trek through this fascinating yet intimidating work. I advised having Wikipedia open on her phone while she read, but she couldn’t work up the interest to go beyond the first 20 pages. I can’t blame her — reading should be a challenge, but when it seems too much like work then there’s probably better things you should be doing. She is interested in seeing the new film when it becomes available on one of our streaming services, so its entirely possible she could become as intrigued by this story as I was when I decided to give the work another shot.

I Didn’t, But Here’s Some Who Did

On weeks when I can’t round up the creative energy required for Friday Fictioneers, I sometimes like to draw attention to the work of a few contributors:

  • AshleyDannie provides a portrait of an arrogant tourist learning her lesson
  • The image for this week’s contest comes from a land which probably seems alien to most Friday Fictioneers, and elmowrites captures this feeling beautifully
  • The neat speculative twist provided by ghlearner seems inspired by “Blade Runner”
  • And the metafictional speculative twist from draliman made me laugh — twice
  • The narrator of Nobbinmaug‘s tale doesn’t like this setting, or the situation he soon finds himself in

Web Comics

I grew up on Charles Shulz’ Peanuts — when my parents’ daily newspaper arrived every morning, I’d beg to have the back section, which hosted the the comics section. As a teen my tastes in comics gravitated towards Doonesbury and Bloom County, and discovering Calvin and Hobbes, The Boondocks, and Dykes to Watch Out For as an adult was a treat. It’s been decades since I’ve subscribed to a daily paper, but my appreciation for the medium endures. Below are three web comics that I continue to enjoy. (Out of respect for the artists, I’m posting links to their web sites rather than copying their comics in this post.)

This Modern World

I discovered Tom Tomorrow’s This Modern World as a graduate student in the late 1980s. The comic’s overt left-leaning politics appealed to the angry young man I was at the time, and while I don’t always agree with the comic’s politics today I still appreciate its wit. If you don’t like politics and social commentary, especially if you’re conservative, you probably won’t enjoy this one, but I believe Tom Tomorrow is who Gary Trudeau always wanted to be.

Depression Comix

It’s difficult to write about mental illness in a way that’s both authentic and entertaining, but Clay Jonathan’s Depression Comix pulls it off. The latest strip is a perfect commentary on life during the ongoing COVID pandemic; I especially like how the main character in that strip literally disappears at the end.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

Enough already with the social relevance! Zach Weinersmith’s Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal is just a whole lot of fun. The strip makes plenty of references to contemporary issues and intellectual ideas, but a consistently self-deprecating tone makes the strip consistently entertaining.

What web comics do you enjoy? I’d love to read your suggestions in the comments!

Ten Flashes of One Hundred

Although the link for this week’s Friday Fictioneers is still open, submitting on the day afternoon doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of the challenge. I’ll focus attention instead to ten contributors who submitted their contributions in time this week:

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson
  1. It’s always nice to see a poetry response, and pensitivity101 offers a lyric that’s appropriate both for the picture and the season.
  2. Reena Saxena takes the image in a surprising and rewarding direction.
  3. The entry by Inside the Mind of Isadora captures the implied darkness within the photo prompt.
  4. Na’ama Yehuda adds some tension to the image.
  5. The ending of draliman‘s story about adolescent heartache made me laugh!
  6. A rarity for Friday Fictioneers: an essay, from MC’s Whispers.
  7. What I like most about The Count of North Clifton‘s submission are the calendic portmanteaus Decemburary and Marpril. I may have to steal those!
  8. solothefirst gives a speculative twist to the image.
  9. A humorous contribution from Archon’s Den.
  10. Tales from Glasgow‘s tale evokes both sorrow and horror.

You’re ‘Avin a Risus, Mate – One A Week 2020

I could look it up easily enough, but I honestly don’t want to know how long it’s been since my last reblog. January’s always good for starting or resuming a good habit. jillyfunnell is an English poet with an engaging and lyrical voice. This particular poem uses some highly complex terminology with both grace and an intimate knowledge of her subject. A delight.

Sugar on the Bee

Image result for image of poppy flower

Inspired by the news that garden centres are dumbing down plant names

Please do not dumb down my acer grisum
It is not just a common garden dame
And expert tutors prudent, trained each horticulture student
to call each plant its correct Latin name

So, take care to prune the hamamelis mollis
Show respect for all magnolia cambellii
Give thanks for thick and glorious hedera helixa
and ensure tagetes patula does not die

Papaver’s still our emblem, in its Latin
and glorious it blooms and issues seed
Parodia formosa? Safe, but don’t come closer
This lonely species might well make you bleed

Which brings us to the sultry one called vanda
Get her name right when you sit her on your sill
And though naysayers say, no more flores on the way
With a bit of care, I think you’ll find she will

And don’t even think about messing with…

View original post 3 more words

Different Visions of the Same Sight

I occasionally give credit to other Friday Fictioneers contributors. Here’s a few noteworthy responses to the most recent prompt (you can view mine here):

  1. Just Joyfulness delves into some magic realism.
  2. Some great imagery from Swallows and Lillies.
  3. Tina Stewart Brakebill writes from the perspective of one of the figures in the flames.
  4. The contribution by elmowrites is, in her own words, “something of a rabbit warren of tangents.”
  5. I’m a sucker for sci-fi parody, and This Jolly Beggar delivers.

And in keeping with the contest’s spirit, I am stopping at exactly 100 words.

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

For Those Who Chose

PHOTO PROMPT -Copyright-Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Not feeling creative today, so instead of contributing to Friday Fictioneers I’ll show some appreciation for some who’ve chosen not to take a blow-off day:

  1. Anita creates a hook to a bigger story in Cupid is Mine!
  2. Everyone’s lost during this pandemic, and Reena Saxena’s He used to be… provides a fresh perspective on this feeling.
  3. In another COVID-19 tale, lullaby by msjadeli focuses on a fate worse than death
  4. A seemingly harmless situation turns ominous in Plaridel’s Close, but No Cigar.

In keeping with the contest’s 100-word limit, I’ll stop here. A convenient excuse to conclude this post.

One Photo, Ten Stories, 100 Words Each

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Wanted to follow yesterday’s somber post with some imaginative stories from last week’s Friday Fictioneers challenge (my own interpretation of the prompt is here):

  1. A broken appliance on your property can be annoying, but a different source of irritation is the subject for Brenda’s Thoughts
  2. Penny Gadd explores the apocalyptic potential of the prompt
  3. Really liked the ending provided by Jo Hawk
  4. Keith Hillman provides a metaphoric take on the photo
  5. The image seems ideal for humor, and Trent P. McDonald delivers an entertaining riff
  6. Phyllis Moore comes up with a unique use for the abandoned appliance
  7. If I keep reading the story by Nelkumi while looking at the photo prompt, my imagination might eventually get unstuck
  8. I’m not a big fan of puns, but Anthony North‘s play on words is fun
  9. The term “nuke the fridge” is the inspiration for David Stewart‘s story
  10. In Varad‘s tale, the door opens to a horrible surprise


All This from a Picture of a Typewriter

I enjoy Friday Fictioneers enough to give the occasional shout-out to entries that impressed me:

  1. This contest doesn’t feature a lot of historical fiction, but thanks to event coordinator Rochelle Wisoff-Fields I learned an interesting fact today
  2. Poetry is similarly not common during FF, but Andrea LeDew offers a memorable word
  3. Sandra Cook crafts a scene that’s atmospheric and suspenseful
  4. The experience of using a manual typewriter is captured by Susan A Eames
  5. The best entries make you want to read more, and Lynn Love does the job
  6. Miranda Lewis uses the prompt to give advice to writers looking back on the age when these devices were in common use
  7. The antique machine leads to a mystical yet realistic experience courtesy of msjadeli
  8. Learning how to use these old machines could be stressful, an experience oneta hayes expresses well
  9. Some of the most powerful images from this week’s challenge came from Redcat‘s offering
  10. A clever story from nelkumi contains only sounds

Half-way through compiling this list, I noticed all my selections were from female bloggers. I decided to stay with that theme until the end. You’ll get your turn next time, gents!