The Early Days of a Better Nation

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Tulip for Lucretius

My short story, 'A Tulip for Lucretius', is now online at the Spring 2009 issue of Subterranean Press Magazine.

Erudite critics may detect a subtle element of homage to Roger Zelazny's classic 1964 short story, 'A Rose for Ecclesiastes'. True, but mine has genomics! And total depravity!

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I have been recommending Lucretious to one and all for decades. It's the best antidote to god-crap and fear of death that I know of. A truly wonderful work that's accassable and comforting. A few years ago the Lovecraft connection popped into my mind/brain and I had to laugh. Great that you posted that story and named it after one of the most literally down-to-Earth writers of all time. It's a damned shame that not only did Constantine recognize Christianity but that a bit later on Justinian closed all non-Christian philosophy schools ( the de facto Atheist, and the Platonic) in the Byzantine Empire. The closed-minded creep. Had he not done that there might well be more Lucretian Atheists around today.

There is a curious combination of British and US usage, e.g. "armour" but also "sidewalk" and "practice" rather than "practise" as a verb. There is also one definite solecism I spotted: "whited sepulchre".

I think I spelled in British but wrote in American. (Esp. as 'pavement' means exactly the wrong thing in USage: the roadway.)

Re: 'whited sepulchre' - if it's good enough for the King James Bible, it's good enough for me!

I find that term in Matthew 23:27, where it's spelled that way and refers to something other than what I took it for, so OK. I was thinking you were using another expression, "wighted sepulchre", i.e. haunted tomb, not the biblical reference.

I had a related problem that I've solved to people's satisfaction---I hope. I was born and educated in NYC. Now I'm connected with British media, online and othersise. So I once asked myself what I should do: if I use British English I'd be branded a phony. But if I use gung-ho Imperiumspeak I'd be called a gringo. I mentioned this supposed dilemma to a noted writer. He laughed and exclaimed, "Just write English." When I asked him what he meant he repeated those words in a more emphatic tone of voice. I followed his advice have had no problems since then.

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Great story. The protagonist's childhood realizations about Christianity were very similar to my own. Unfortunately I didn't happen upon Lovecraft until much later and I've never read Lucretius -- but now I will (used copy of that very same black, red, and white Hackett Classics edition is on its way to my home as I type). Thanks much.

Thanks, ilorien - glad you enjoyed the story. That's a good translation of Lucretius - I read it years ago in a Sphere paperback edition, and the new edition is an improvement on an already fine work.

Hi again,
I finished the ENGINES OF LIGHT trilogy (loved it!), tore through EXECUTION CHANNEL with great delight, and finally got a hold NIGHT SESSIONS (imported). I'm only 50 pages into it, but am already fully engaged (ensnared?).

I happened to set NIGHT SESSIONS down on the same table with the Hackett Ed. of Lucretius and couldn't help noticing the similarity in color scheme. Do you have any say in the cover art of you books or is it just happy coincidence?

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