Swimming the Lucinda River

The-Swimmer-1968-MovieSeems I have been on a quest, circling the science fiction and fantasy whirlpool in a distant, yet interesting manner. On the periphery, far away from the madding bustle, I’ve been reminded of some quirky works of film and literature that don’t fit into any category. They are moving, deep, wonderful, and, at times, disturbing experiences.

In 1968, Burt Lancaster starred in a film, The Swimmer, directed by Frank Perry from a screenplay by Eleanor Perry adapted from a 1964 short story by John Cheever that appeared in The New Yorker. How’s that for SF? Neddy Merrill, who has been away for a time, appears in a bathing suit at a summer cocktail party in an upper-class suburb of New York City. As he schmoozes with his former friends who are surprised and happy to see him, he talks about his wife and kids, then looks across the well-maintained community landscape, dotted with homes and lawns and swimming pools. He realizes he can swim home, which is miles away, by stroking across the line of his neighbor’s backyard pools that form what he calls the Lucinda River, in honor of his wife. Ned jumps into the pool, energetically swims from one end to the other, and leaves his friends behind. He navigates the River for the rest of the film. I will reveal no more.

It is quite an experience to take the journey with Ned. Each step reveals part of the mystery of Ned that grows but is never addressed directly. It is the kind of quest story you find in fantasy stories. In a certain sense, the film reads like an episode of The Twilight Zone. There is a cameo performance by Joan Rivers and an appearance by John Garfield’s son. Sydney Pollack (uncredited) was brought in to direct some of the scenes. You can stream “The Swimmer” as an Amazon rental. It is also available on Blu-ray and standard disc. Or come out to my house and we can have a glass of wine and watch. There once was a single swimming pool in the neighborhood so that we will be landlocked. Unless, of course, we empty a line of vino bottles up to Frankstown Road.

Mary Soon Lee’s poems

Mary Soon Lee has four more poems online:
Inheritance,” a poem about King Xau and the dragon, in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.
 “Roasted Chicken,” a poem about cooking with Lucy, in Songs of Eretz.
 “Giants,” a poem about my parents, first published in the Atlanta Review, now reprinted in Songs of Eretz
 “Micha,” a short King Xau poem, also in Songs of Eretz:
She also has a poem in Dreams & Nightmares #102, another King-Xau-and-the-dragon poem, titled (imaginatively) “Dragon.” The poem is not available online, but a pdf of the whole issue can be ordered for $1. Ordering information is at: Ordering Dreams & Nightmares

I cut the cable, but I didn’t cut the intertubes, oh no-o

by Joe Coluccio – President, Parsec
Apologies to Bob Marley.
Joe Hollodck
Cable TV is a seductive mate. We pay the exorbitant price not only in hard earned bucks but in some loss of self and a dose of atrophying physical and mental ability.

Newton Minow, then director of the FCC, in a speech in May of 1961 called television a “vast wasteland.” They named the S.S. Minnow of Gilligan’s Island after him. Telling it like it is, is never popular. Continue reading

Man, I Am Harshing My Own Mellow

by Joe Coluccio, President, Parsec

Writing is a chore. Writing is a joy.
Reading is a joy. Reading is a chore.

It is 2016 yet; I have been living my life of the 21st Century smack dab in the middle of the 20th. I have been leading my life in the sphere of my parents. I am aware of the world buzzing around me. I am aware of the growing non-cognitive consumer commercial crassness enveloping the globe, the poor in the thrall of the wealthy. I also know it was always thus. Been, to offer the other side of my titular cliche, down so long, looks like up to me. Continue reading

I can’t even step into the same river once

– by Joe Coluccio, President Parsec
Tarnished Utopia Starling StoriesTurns out you can’t go home again. At least, not often. Kinda like stepping into the same river twice. So, when I revisit books that have been on my shelves for years, I believe it is not an act of nostalgia but a deepening of my life experience. Sometimes the magic does not happen.

From 1950 to 1961 Herbert L. Gold, editor of Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine started a series of forty-one digest sized novels of science fiction. Some of them not too shabby. Many of them abridged. C.L. Moore’s “Shambleau”, L. Sprague de Camp’s “Lest Darkness Fall,” Hal Clement’s  “Mission of Gravity,” Eric Frank Russell’s “Sinister Barrier,”  Arthur C. Clarke’s “Prelude to Space,” and on the list goes. A complete index is available online – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galaxy_Science_Fiction_Novels. Continue reading

We’re captive on the carousel of time


Pinned against the wall by three times the Earth’s gravitational pull. Above me, a boy is beginning to squirm and contort his body so his feet will replace the position of his head. When we slow down his noggin will melt toward the floor. The clown beside him looks like he is running, one knee up, the other behind. His hair plastered against the padded grey wall. End of the school year 1957 on “The Rotor” a quick stroll down and three tickets from the Wild Mouse. Kennywood Park. Continue reading

Book Signing at CopyLeft Gallery, May 13

PARSEC SF/F/H BOOK SIGNING   ♦   May 13, 2016   ♦   6:00-10:00 pm


127 Brownsville Road, Pittsburgh, PA, 15210

starchildDoors into other universes exist in the tales of novels by ten local, science fiction, fantasy and horror authors. Parsec, the premier speculative fiction organization in Pittsburgh, will host this multi-author book signing and party. Come see our world!

The event is free and open to the public. No registration or RSVP necessary.

Venue is wheelchair accessible.

Authors: Stephanie Keyes; Timons Esaias; Heidi Ruby Miller; Jason Jack Miller (more to be announced)

Dune, but not forgotten.

by Joe Coluccio, Parsec President


I’m the kind of dope that spent one whole summer seated at the dilapidated picnic table in my backyard. A true pain in the ass to swing your legs over the bench seats and under the rain worn planks. Breathe a sigh of relief and realize you are trapped in a leg lock that prevents you from getting up to answer the phone which is in the pocket of your jacket in the dining room and rings the minute you settle in. A deep thirst envelops you, and there is no easy way to hop to the refrigerator to get a cold drink. Then the pressure in your bladder forces you to stand, untangle your twisted legs and slip on the grass as you move in a frenetic drum tattoo to the bathroom for relief. And I think it’s gonna rain today. Continue reading