Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘future’

Redesigned by Death

41d4DKAXPfLI Avatar by Heather Harrison.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

I’ve said before that I don’t read much sci-fi, but every once in awhile something catches my eye, or yells in my ear. I Avatar is one of those yellers. The story, written by Heather Harrison, describes a time in the 20th century, and a character named Panama, who is suddenly reactivated in the year 2082. At first she’s not sure what has happened, but soon discovers that her handler is called Gina, and her name is now Sila.

“During my first few weeks as an avatar, there was a lot of whining and crying involved. I can’t say I’m proud of how I handled it, but hell, give me a break. Finding out you died and were stuck spending the rest of eternity as someone’s video game piece sucked ass. On the positive side, at least I was able to think. Avatars are supposed to be dead, as in not retaining any emotions, feelings, or thoughts. I on the other hand, retained all three.”

It turns out that young gamers in the future (Gina) have the same kind of love interests as those nowadays, and Sila (Panama) is with Gina all the way (literally). There are some wonderful twists and turns in this story. The process by which one becomes an avatar is bizarre, yet believable. If you take an episode of Black Mirror and Westworld, and throw them in bed together, you might wake up with something similar to I Avatar.

Sink Your Teeth Into It

51r5342n2LL._AC_US218_Flash Fiction by Cathbad Maponus.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

If you like short shorts that cross many genres (horror, fantasy, science fiction, dystopian, etc.), then definitely get yourself a copy of Flash Fiction. There are trips into the future, into space, present unrealities, and lots of killing, dying, and violence.

Writing flash fiction, also known as short shorts, is a unique endeavor. Having an entire story make sense, grab your attention, and surprise you, all with a few sentences, is not an easy task. At least to do it well isn’t, and Ms. Maponus does it very well.

A couple of my favorites in this well-crafted collection are “The Veil” and “Old Man Jasper”. Some of the titles are as clever as the stories, such as “The Cat Wore Prada”. Here is one that I read twice, and enjoyed both times.

IF SHE REALLY IS…

“Henny Porter, ye are charged of witchcraft. Do ye plead guilty and beg the Good Lord’s forgiveness?” The Magistrate questioned.

“I gladly admit I practice the Craft!” Henny offered cheerfully. “Aye to the first part; Nay to the second.”

His face ghastly pale, Pastor Franken spoke. “Henny! Do you realize what such an admission means?!”

“Do not worry, Parson,” Henny replied, smiling warmly.

The Magistrate pounded the gavel. “Henny, you are found guilty of Witchcraft. Ye shall be burned at the stake at dusk!”

That night, it rained fire. Many bodies were buried; Henny’s was not among them.

After looking around a little on the web, I discovered that there are not that many collections of short shorts, and some of them seem questionable. Flash Fictionby Cathbad Maponus, is one you can sink your teeth into (perhaps literally).

A Long Time To Die

Dying Takes It Out of You – Book One of the Madonna Diaries
by S.S. Bazinet. Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

513xwn-wYJLMental gymnastics, emotional turmoil, and brotherly love, all add weight to this dystopian thriller. Dying Takes It Out of You is set in the near future, when a virus has been deployed by terrorists, and the entire world is threatened. Dory is one of those infected, who believes he’d rather die than live in this shit hole that has become his life. His brother Milton, a scientist and doctor, has other ideas for Dory, and tries to save him by finding a cure at all costs. It may cost them everything.

Ms. Bazinet has taken a terrifying world in the near future, and turned it into a philosophical and ideological tale about understanding, family, and what is worth living for, without giving up an iota of fear or suspense. The beginning is intentionally misleading, making readers believe that the pursuer is evil, and the narrator (Dory) is running for his life. The sudden switch in who is in danger, and the shift from which person is good, and who is bad, is well executed.

In the process of Milton’s heroics to save his brother, who craves blood, is afraid he’ll go crazy, and will most likely die a horrible death within weeks, Dory describes his experience. “Sometimes a person doesn’t know how strong they are until they keep dying and coming back. A few days in, Milton said that I was having a convulsion and then clunk, I was dead again. The old vessel in my chest decided it had had enough and just stopped working in mid fit. Even Milton was surprised. Most people take longer to kill.”

This fantasy, by S. S. Bazinet, explores the depths a loved one (in this case his twin brother) will take to keep them alive. The world she creates is not that distant, or foreign, and has a strong connection with its surroundings. Memories that Dory has of an abusive father, and kind mother, are also interspersed with lucid dreams and conversations with Thomas, an individual known as one of the Watchers. These dialogues provide Dory with insight and hope, and make Dying Takes It Out of You all the better.

Power of Now Is Over

586613838e010d433bacb209ce65ea56c69e859e-thumbFrom My Grandmother’s Kitchen by Tova Tarantino Toshiba. Acknowledgments. Excerpt from Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

The power of now is already the past. The past will become the future and the future does not exist. Where are we going?

More koans and stories: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

What I Learned From Futbol

Watching the fútbol festivities over the past month has taught me much and more about the power of sport – its ability to unite nations toward a common cause, create hope for the future, and celebrate the victories of others as one’s own.

What if these same responses – unity, hope for the future, and celebration of success – also happened each and every time a poor entrepreneur pulled herself out of poverty?

futbol2014-Header-copy-4

In Honduras – a player in this summer’s games – FINCA reaches nearly 20,000 individuals, and we consider each success akin to a game-winning goal. For Ana Osorio, that goal was receiving a FINCA loan for her cheese business, allowing her to buy greater quantities of milk at better prices. Initially clearing just US$2 in profit per day, Ana has nearly quadrupled her earnings, allowing her to better provide for herself and her family.

Join FINCA as we celebrate the success of Ana and the over one million other microentrepreneurs in 22 countries who have benefitted from FINCA loans – and show your support today.

Thank you for your generosity.

Sincerely,

Soledad Gompf
Vice President
FINCA

Keep Girls Strong

Dear Gabriel,

A baby girl comes into this world brimming with potential – ready to grow, live, and dream.

But too often, society will get in her way, stacking up a mountain of challenges in front of her.

CARE-EOY-2012-COB-2

Sometimes it starts right away by robbing her of her health because of a lack of food or clean water. Sometimes it comes later – when her family cannot afford to send her to school or her local school refuses to allow girls to attend. Before she is twelve, she may even be forced to marry a man twice her age.

For over 60 years, CARE has been addressing the underlying causes of poverty and attacking the obstacles that stand between girls and their ability to realize their full potential.

With your help, we can meet a girl’s basic need for food, water, and a place to live. We can build schools and help communities realize that girls belong in the classroom, not at the altar.

Together, we can help women fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams and watch women lift up their families, and entire communities, out of poverty.

That’s what works… but only when people like you commit to pitching in. Every bit will help rush urgently-needed support to the girls and families who need it – and until December 31st, your gift will be matched. Make a gift now!

That’s right – when you donate before December 31st, your gift will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $1 million. This amazing opportunity could not come at a better time.

In many parts of the world, educating and empowering girls is a deadly serious matter. A few months ago, just days before the first International Day of the Girl, 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head because of her outspoken advocacy for the rights of girls to go to school. Miraculously, she survived and from her recovery room refused to abandon the belief that girls deserve a fair chance in this world – the kind of chance they get when they go to school.

When girls are willing to show such amazing courage, we must step up to act as safeguards – we must stand strong in the fight to win girls’ right to dream, learn, and grow.

CARE has not only helped build schools for girls in the region Malala calls home – our field staff also partnered with local organizations to rebuild over 40 schools for girls in the country of Pakistan. CARE supports youth activities like sporting events and youth forums. Globally, our education work focuses on girls between the ages of 10 and 14, when they are making the critical transition from childhood to adulthood.

Around the world, we are fighting poverty in many different ways – through repairing community wells, creating village savings and loan associations to help poor communities start small businesses, managing crises, and so much more. When I think about the path to a brighter future, I firmly believe that working with girls is the key to our success.

Please help keep girls strong. Every gift matters – please give today and help us meet our goal of $1 million by December 31st. Every dollar will be matched.

Thank you for everything you do.

Sincerely,

Tolli Love
Vice President, CARE

Museums Connecting Us All

Dear Gabriel,

Museums aren’t just rainy day activities. They shed light on accomplishments and cultures. They give us all a chance to encounter “celebrity” items while giving them contextual significance. In many cases, museums are the best available tools to truly connect the past to our present.

One exciting new museum will give us a chance to learn about American narratives too often shunted aside. Learn more about how you can help make African American history come alive for our country and for future generations.

Unfortunately, museums like this one are few and far between in America, despite the diverse available content. As far as I’m concerned, that’s all the more reason for us to show how much we celebrate treasures that illustrate African American history and culture!

As Americans, we all share the responsibility of preserving African American history and culture as best we can. Show your support for the celebration and preservation of African American history and culture today.

Thanks for taking action,

Claire K.
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Help Girls Education

Dear Gabriel,

Girls should be able to go to school. It’s something we take for granted. But around the world, nearly 37 million girls are out of school.

I want you to meet Pinki, a graduate of the first accelerated learning class in the Uttar Pradesh region of India. Pinki missed going to school as a child, but thanks to CARE’s Udaan project, she had a second chance.

Udaan means “flight,” and CARE’s program provides girls like Pinki a chance to overcome societal barriers by helping them gain confidence and skills they can use to escape poverty for good. Today, Pinki is in college and has her own apartment — a rare achievement for young women from her town.

Pinki has a chance at a bright future thanks to generous donations from our supporters. Remember, there are millions of other poor people around the world who are counting on you to support CARE’s life-changing work, such as programs that help girls and women get an education.

Please make a special gift right now to help empower poor women and girls to create a better world for all this year and beyond.

CARE’s innovative education programs help girls master basic skills, find their voices and prepare to become leaders in their communities.

And empowering young women like Pinki to succeed through education is just one way CARE fights poverty around the world. Your support also can:

Equip women with tools and resources that help them increase and save their earnings;

Help families access improved health care, including family planning services and gender-based violence counseling;

Connect pregnant and nursing mothers with the care they need to keep themselves and their children healthy; and
Deliver emergency aid to communities that experience disaster or war.

Please make a gift now to start empowering lives with CARE.

I trust you’ll join us in 2012 to defend dignity and fight poverty. Thank you for all that you do to champion new beginnings for young girls and women.

Sincerely,

Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH
President and CEO, CARE

Don’t Forget

Don’t Forget by NGARANBE Daniel (in photo), is an excerpt from The Skin of Lions: Rwandan Folk Tales.

My life was in the streets and my bed in the dirt. My food was from dustbins. I used drugs to try to forget, but they didn’t help. I was a thief and would rob whoever passed my way. Then I found a new home and new parents at an orphanage called ROP Center for Street Children.

The man at ROP told me to come out from the street and join the other kids. They clothed me, treated me well, and helped me when I was sick. What touched me most was that they treated me just like any other kid. That is why I thank my new parents at ROP. Now I have a future. I am speaking English, Some French, and taking other courses.

I would ask the leaders of this nation, and all nations that are helping children, to keep doing what you can. Not because the children are your biological blood, but because they are people just like you.

Children are tomorrow’s wonder.

There are others in some families who are being misused for sexually immoral things and heavy work. Don’t forget all of those who are being wronged. They are looking to you, to anybody, wondering who will see them and reach out a hand.

Little Amusa

Written by Jenny Clover at the ROP Center for Street Children in Rwanda for ROP Stories.

Photo: Amusa (on right), with his best friend Frank.

Amusa is one of our youngest boys, aged around five we think. Like so many of the boys, we don’t know his real age or when his birthday is. All we know is that his parents are dead and he is on his own. All the rest is guess work based on his size and little snippets he can remember. Although we can’t even trust his memory: when he first arrived he told us that his parents died in the 1994 genocide, a story he probably adopted from older street children he met of whom this was true.

The Director of our Rwandan Orphans Project Centre, Celestin, found Amusa living under a truck in an area of Kigali where long-haul drivers stop to rest. It’s difficult to describe you Amusa’s tiny frame and wide-eyed innocence, but if you can imagine any five year old you might know living under a truck and fending for themselves every day, you will probably realise how unbearable it is to think of little Amusa doing this.

Amusa wasn’t completely alone when we found him, he shared his life on the streets with two close comrades: Frank and Saidi, both aged around six and now also living at the Centre. The three of them have a closeness that you don’t see amongst young children very often, and it can only be because of what they must have been through together. They are fiercely loyal and fight for each other when they feel there has been an injustice. An incident at the Centre which meant Amusa missed lunch and was bought a banana, saw him insist on sharing it with his friends.

Now safely away from the streets and with three regular meals a day guaranteed to him, Amusa seems happy. But he is still a young child and finds it difficult to accept that he has no idea what happened to his parents, except that they are dead. Soon after he joined our Centre, Amusa had a fight with another boy and became hysterical afterward. He kept crying out that he wanted his mum. He knew, as we did, that she is dead but that didn’t stop him wanting her. We will never be able to ease that pain but we can go some way towards helping Amusa have a chance at a successful future.

CONTINUED

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