Monday, 1 February 2010

The Challenge...

Simon Fisher Turner writes music for films - most famously, for Derek Jarman's Caravaggio. I didn't know this when I found his site. All I did know -and this is the only way I can explain it- was that I found what I listened to to be intensely visual. I'd heard of the old "writers workshop" chestnut of writing while listening to a piece of music but had never felt moved to try it before.

It is often said that music is a form of communication, yet what it actually communicates is unspecific. I suppose it communicates like a knock on a door. It's difficult to tell who is knocking, though intuition based on past experience might give us a good idea. It is impossible to tell from the knock why they're calling on us. The knock, however, does communicate feeling. It could be anything from the gentle tap of someone seeing if we're awake, to the irate rat-tat-tat of a neighbour come to tell us that our dog has messed on his drive. But it's impossible to transmit the feeling exactly. Was it the neighbour, or was it our mate, come to pick us up on the way to a gig, who is anxious because he's late and his car's blocking the road? Difficult to tell.

Having written a short piece based on Ghost Road Berlin, I found myself wondering what other people would produce, given the same task? Would there be common threads? There was only one way to find out...

I quickly found out that I'd make a bad scientist. Tony got in first, with an oblique, post-modern reponse to the meme. I'd not reflected on the title of the piece at all and it is, as Tony says, freighted with holocaust associations. (Like a fool, I'd not spotted them. When I saw "Berlin" I immediately thought of the fact that my daughter spent a few weeks there not long ago). If I were scientific, I'd have given out an untitled piece to listen to! As it seems to be turning out, I perhaps set something else in motion - something unexpected (by me) and at least as -if not more- interesting than what I intended to start. But we'll see...

Contributions (thank you all!) so far:

And so to my effort, which got me thinking of the idea in the first place:

The Ice Forest

We crash-landed in the ice forest at night. We came to rest at a crazy angle. We have had to adapt to the fact that none of the surfaces are level. Moving around is an effort. After a few hours we ache all over. Often we sit in the dark, as we can not afford to squander our resources. But at least it's not as cold as it is outside.

We have been out to explore, wearing the environmental suits. We have to wear them: it is so cold that your flesh begins to blacken the moment you expose it to the atmosphere. All around us, huge crystalline structures, arranged in avenues, rise from the ground and spread out over our heads like the branches of trees.

The night seems never-ending: this side of the planet seems never to turn towards its sun. Fortunately, there is always light enough outside to see by. The planet boasts so many moons that two or three of them are almost always in the sky. One gets to know which ones by the colour of the light.

Most of the time, however, we are confined to the inner compartments of the craft.

Mending the machine is beyond us. As we are the first humans to travel in time it is unlikely we will ever be rescued: the few who have any idea where we might be have neither the knowledge nor the means to follow us. Had anyone somehow managed to do so they would probably be here already.

The solar panels generate very little in the moonlight. The batteries won't last forever. When they run dry we will freeze. Gradually, I assume, we will become encrusted with the same crystalline structures we see all around us. No-one will ever know we were here.


Rachel Fox said...

You write like such an adventurer!

And I love all the introduction. I think I've said this before but I wish you'd been my music teacher! You're not old enough though, eh?


Rachel Fenton said...

One day there'll be nothing but a big pile of pooh visible from space!

I like your adventurer spirit.

I also like the structure of this very much.

Uiscebot said...

Yours is a nice sci fi piece Rivron! Thanks again for the exercise

Titus said...

Science Fiction! Now that was not what I was expecting.
I liked the coldness and clarity of the writing mirroring the environment they were in.

Thank you for the prompt too!

Niamh B said...

Dominic - Enjoyed reading your piece very much - tho it was sad, it's so nicely imagined, pure escapism.
Enjoyed the challenge too!

Poetikat said...

I just realized that I had not read your contribution to YOUR own challenge.

I couldn't help but think of the movie "Alive" about the football team that crashed in the Andes, but then of course when you mentioned planet and moons, I reassessed my vision.

I asked myself, are the moons all full? Wouldn't you just go mad, in that case?

I do love the last line.

Kat Thanks again for the prompt.

John Hayes said...

A strong piece--the crystalline structures are beautiful in a cold & eerie way.

Totalfeckineejit said...

In space, no-one can hear you scream. AAAARRRGGGGHHH!
Science fiction is clearly in your veins.Gret challenge ,thank ye!

Dominic Rivron said...

RF1: Thanks. I once taught a lady the cello into her nineties.

RF2: Now we know what SETI should be looking for.

Uiscebot, Titus, Niamh, John: Pleased you liked it.

Poetikat: Not all full. You've got me wondering what tidal effect multiple moons have on a planet.

TFE: I always get annoyed in scifi films where you hear dirty great explosions in space. There's no air - so there's no noise! Surely they realise that! I annoy Mrs R by bringing up the fact every time it happens on telly.

Mama Zen said...


Poet in Residence said...

Dominic, I really wanted to join in but my story was so depressing (perhaps because I went to Berlin on a grey and gloomy rain-sodden weekend) that nobody would have wanted to read it and so after reading yours and a couple of the others I'm really glad I didn't submit and inflict my road rage dungeon funeral bell scenario onto the others.

the watercats said...

I'd missed the holocaust connection too.. I'm sorry i missed the boat for this one, but i listened to the tune and also brought to mind a sci-fi'esque thing. I really like this little clip of apocalyptic imminant death... I often wonder what would go through your head if you found yourself confronting death.. and had time to think about it...
hopefully i'll never find out, lol..
great stuff!

Dominic Rivron said...

Mama Zen: Thanks for visiting.

PiR: We wouldn't have minded a bit of misery in the name of fiction!

watercats: in a way "confronting death and having time to think about it" sums up human existence. A cheerful thought. :)

Nishant said...

I like your adventurer spirit.

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