Friday, December 16, 2016


It's been a long time since I last posted a review here (over a year *gasp*).  Truthfully, I haven't written many reviews in that time period, but I think I still have a sense of what I'm doing.  Today I shall be reviewing "Overkill" by Rob Butler.  This sci-fi flash fic comes out of the fifth issue of the Scottish magazine Shoreline of Infinity.  You can purchase the issue here.

"Overkill" is written in 1st-person plural.  It's a move I appreciate, and it gives a very eerie feeling to the piece.  It feels like there's a cohesive protagonist, yet the viewpoint comes from a group.  The members are simply so battered and lotless that they work as a collective just as well as any individual protagonist.  I love how limited the group's development is.  There's enough for a good glimpse into the members' lives, but not enough to disrupt the impact of the final few paragraphs of the story.  One character is named, and he's given a small bit of personality.  It's unclear whether he's part of the collective or not.  Working in 1st-person plural, it's difficult to distinguish if a sentence like "Joe opened the door" (not from this story) implies that Joe is not part of the collective or if he is simply being named by the remainder of the collective.  But I digress.  The mouthpiece of this story, a nameless old man the collective encounters, has a basic mold to his character, yet he remains a gripping force.  His manner of speaking is direct and descriptive, and unless one holds it under the light for too long, it's quite entertaining.

There's very little plot in the "present" of this story.  The little that's there is intriguing and works well with the characters and setting.  Most of the plot comes from the old man's recounting of past events.  His tale is brief, but it is satisfying.  It gives the setting a shape that carries the weight of the story and gives it value.

There's some level of tropiness to the setting of "Overkill."  I can't say that I've never seen it, and I can't say that I haven't written something in a similar vein.  In fact, I just wrote a story recently that shares some characteristics with this story.  It's the execution of the setting that makes "Overkill" stand out.  Perhaps after several read-throughs this story would lose its luster, but, being a man who rarely reads something more than twice, it works well for me.  This story deals with some philosophical questions that are fun to think about, even if they are slightly grim.

It is the seamlessness to the characters, plot, and setting of this story, along with its general writing style, that makes it so enjoyable, I think.  This is typically what I look for, especially in flash fiction, and "Overkill" definitely delivers, despite a short length.  I recommend paying the few dollars to buy the fifth issue of Shoreline of Infinity to read this story and the several others contained in a high-quality Scottish bundle.

Friday, December 9, 2016


            It began as silence.  Then, one pale tenor cried out.
            A second, a third, a fourth blended into the throng, until the voices numbered ten billion, and the first fell away into weeping.
            After a thousand years, Konibar claimed the Cup again.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Essay Exhibit for Intro to Digital Humanities

My final essay for Intro to Digital Humanities is written on the subject of low-tech digital poetry and fringe art.  To be clearer, my essay discusses the use of basic computer programs and digital documents to produce digital poems or other forms of artwork that, while not precisely poems, contain some poetic values.

Some of the digital poems produced for the Digital Poetry course in which I am enrolled fall into my definition of low-tech digital poetry.  In the following Jing video (screencast), I will be briefly highlighting some of my work for the class and some of the work of my classmates.  I had to rush through the poems to keep the video short, and some are not shown in their entirety.  Unfortunately, there isn't much time to delve into these poems during the live exhibit, but I have hyperlinked to them below so that you can look at them later.  As you watch this Jing video, notice the different ways in which digital poems may be produced using methods as simple as .txt files or Prezi.

Essay Exhibit Jing (Note: You may want to hold Ctrl/Command and scroll to fit the whole video on your screen.)

Digital Poems Included in Jing (in order of appearance):

"Pain Changes" by Montana Mang

"Don't Worry" by Emily Moore

"Oh, What Are You Doing, And Where Are You Going?" by Patrick Stahl

"Save Changes" by Jonas Kiefer

"Lightly Worn" by Patrick Stahl

Now, quickly explore these two digital poems yourself:

"Dashed" by Patrick Stahl

"Seeking a release from the monotony" by Sean T. Jackson

The Jing video you just watched contains poetry made with Prezi, Jing, HTML, Excel, Notepad, and a few other basic computer applications (in the case of "Don't Worry"). Consider how each of these basic technologies affords the ability to create digital poems without very much technical training. The final two poems I asked you to explore yourself use .pdf files ("Dashed") or blog posts+videos+an audio recording ("Seeking..."). What impact is there on poems that require users to interact with documents that may not be so sleek as Flash or HTML?

If you have a moment (though you probably don't), check out my latest, tiny digital poem. It uses basic HTML and CSS coding and consists of just three pages.