Hi, I gather it is a thing to mention one’s Hugo-eligible production of the year – and since it’s still exceedingly rare for me to have one, I’ll mention it: Not Poppy, Nor Mandragora, my science fiction novelette, published in Fusion Fragment magazine, about a psychiatrist’s long night on call in a near-future hospital. It can be downloaded here at no cost, though Fusion Fragment is quite worth a hefty donation. I would also like to thank Charles Payseur of Quick Sip Reviews for his kind words about the story.
Embroidering Dragons On Velvet. For Reasons.
“Not Poppy, Nor Mandragora” can be downloaded for free here:
Or pay what you like…it’s a wonderful magazine, and I’m looking forward to reading it all.
Briefly, it’s a science fiction story titled “Not Poppy, Nor Mandragora.” I’ve been working on it for years…it’s been almost like an exorcism to have got it into its final form. It will be coming out in November. And I love Fusion Fragment, check them out: http://www.fusionfragment.com/
I wrote a story! And it’s been published in this book! On paper, even! And it’s for sale! On this link! I can’t stop fragmenting sentences!
What a tyrant needs most is an obsequious toady, so I gave him one.
Unfortunately, it’s intended to be Stephen Miller, and some people I’ve shown it to have found him to look too Putinesque (definitely NOT the image I was trying to convey). Looking at my original drawing….
…I think the mouth was what I really got wrong. Perhaps I will try to unpick it and do it over. All he needs otherwise is his tie and pen (gold, naturally.)
I came to this conclusion after being shocked at what careful study and skill I had to deploy to render our POTUS’ hair. I studied many photographs. I noted hair that cunningly gave the impression of being parted to the side before masterfully evading its expected course and escaping toward the back of the head. I helplessly followed strands of hair from their apparent origin on the scalp through swirly patterns before finding them (impossibly) seeming to reenter the scalp again instead of ending as actual human hair would. I discovered that other hair locks seemed to return unto their own origins like endless Moebius strips resting on Trump’s skull.
I came to the slow, shocking realization of the hairdresser’s otherworldly talent. S/he is capable of astounding artistry, engineering an optical illusion as genius as the works of Escher, giving the impression of subverting the laws of physics – all in the service of making a vanishingly scant quantity of wispy hair seem ample enough to almost decently cover the presidential pate, save in high winds, when all bets are off.
I conclude that the hairdresser is by far the most talented staff member left in the government, and should probably be given a more exalted and responsible position n that government; s/he can only be an improvement over many that work there now.
Alas, I must sadly admit that my own talent for depicting the work of this gifted stylist falls short. I did my best, but a dear friend took one look and gave me the damning verdict, “His hair looks too real.”
The materials: Hair used DMC embroidery thread colors Light Straw (#3822), Very Dark Straw (#3852), and Hazelnut Brown (#3828). Neck and ear as well as facial lines, Dark Rosewood (#3857). IIRC, the eyelid color was Ecru. Collar and inside of mouth were Black.
Having embroidered the face, eyelids and brows, I cut it out and laid it on the upholstery-grade linen background with fear and trembling. All I had read about the technique of back-basting appliques told me I had to work fast before everything unraveled.
Pinned it down with care. This was for strictly utilitarian purposes. Any resemblance to Hollywood-style voodoo practices are strictly coincidental.
Basted it down with purple thread (for easy spotting when unpicking it later) and trimmed it round.
Then the hard part; I unpicked the basting threads one or two at a time, tucked the excess fabric under and sewed it down with Dark Rosewood thread. (Took no photos of this part because I felt sure everything would come to pieces if I stopped.) To my joy, the fabric docilely allowed itself to be stuffed under and stitched down, giving me the three-dimensional bloated look I was aiming for.
Admittedly, it looks a mite wrinkled, but then so does he.
Then I took a break and saw a cat that looked like Hitler.
Added the first thread of Light Straw hair, sketched out the presidential skull in blue chalk to keep the anatomy straight…
Outlined the skull with a bit of Dark Rosewood, then the ear, and began adding hair in earnest…
Added the neck and back of head in Union Square Park (Abe Lincoln watched me sadly).
A) The beginning of a satirical portrait of one Donald Trump, by the grace of some perverse deity President.
B) The most elaborate procrastination I have yet divised for avoiding writing.
C) An abomination that should be fed to a dumpster fire.
D) All of the above.
I said I wished I was kidding about doing a Bayeux Tapestry satire of American politics…the above shows why I should have been kidding.
Medium: Dark Rosewood DMC embroidery thread on linen of Ultra- Jaundice Orange (all right, maybe that’s not that color’s real name, but it could be).
I worry that the embroidery thread medium’s too flattering to the subject – as witness my original design:
Note my blood at the extreme right of this picture, demonstrating that I really suffer for my art (as if the preceding pictures hadn’t made that clear).
I categorically deny that I used those bloodstains to cast a potent hex on the man depicted.
So remember I took up embroidery to distract myself from arguing endlessly with strangers being wrong on the internet?
You can gauge how much wronger people have been lately by the progress I’ve made:
At the rate people are wrongering online, I will be embroidering the Papal vestments by the end of the year.
Off to sketch the design for my modern-day American politics version of the Bayeux Tapestry. (I wish I were kidding about that).
Lo, it is virtually done. Impressive, is it not? Noble! Imposing! Skillfully executed!
Now check out the back. (Cue the music from the Psycho shower scene):
THE HORROR! It’s like someone sliced off the back of the heart AND the owl and all the guts are hanging out.
Anyway, I used three different shades of red on the heart, which was probably one too many, or the wrong kind of red. I intended the darkest, brownish-red to convey shadows, and thus make the heart look more three dimensional. Instead that particular color seems to convey…raw meat. Which, in a depiction of a heart, is not exactly wrong, I suppose…but not very appetizing, maybe. Probably a purple-red would have been better for shadowing.
But despite that, and the fact that I could wish the feet to be less orange, and other little details, I really like how the public side turned out. So I’m going to dab a little fabric glue over the back to keep it from unraveling (I suspect this is cheating, but I will NOT risk losing all that work) and have it cleaned and made into a small dice bag (lined, of course. My four-sided dice would get lost forever in that tangle).